Best foods to help kids get to sleep

[I bumped into this amusing and interesting article on my friend Tom Frey’s Impact Lab weblog, and thought it was sufficiently useful that I’m republishing it here. If you’re having problems getting your wee ones to sleep, perhaps part of the problem is dinner and post-dinner snacks, anyway…] What is the secret to getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep? Head for the kitchen and enjoy one or two of these 10 foods. They relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones – serotonin and melatonin – flowing.
Bananas. They’re practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.
Chamomile tea. The reason chamomile is such a staple of bedtime tea blends is its mild sedating effect – it’s the perfect natural antidote for restless minds/bodies.


Warm milk. It’s not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan – an amino acid that has a sedative – like effect – and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus there’s the psychological throw-back to infancy, when a warm bottle meant “relax, everything’s fine.”
Honey. Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s linked to alertness.
Potatoes. A small baked spud won’t overwhelm your GI tract, and it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.
Oatmeal. Oats are a rich source of sleep – inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cozy – plus if you’ve got the munchies, it’s filling too.
Almonds. A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can be snooze-inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.
Flaxseeds. When life goes awry and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.
Whole-wheat bread. A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it’s converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs “time to sleep.”
Turkey. It’s the most famous source of tryptophan, credited with all those Thanksgiving naps. But that’s actually modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach’s basically empty, not overstuffed, and when there are some carbs around, not tons of protein. But put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread mid-evening, and you’ve got one of the best sleep inducers in your kitchen.
Thanks, Tom. Here’s a link to the original article if you’re interested, including a yummy lullaby muffin recipe: Top Ten Foods for a Good Night’s Sleep.

7 comments on “Best foods to help kids get to sleep

  1. Agree with George. For anyone who might be wondering why…botulism spores in honey can cause illness in the immature digestive systems of infants. But for kids over 1 year, their guts are full of good bacteria that can break down the botulism found in honey. Before I knew about this, I did give honey to my son a few times when he was a baby to help him sleep better, but luckily he nothing happened to him.

  2. 11-22-2010 made this recipe. Came out pasty. Wonder if someone forgot to mention an egg, because the muffins really didn’t raise. Will
    try the recipe again and see if an egg will make
    a difference.

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