Sleep is important in promoting physical and mental health for toddlers and kids. If your little one is not sleeping well, you’re not alone. The American Academy of Pedriatrics reports that 25 to 50 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents experience sleep problems.
A study conducted in 2010 showed a link between sleep and resilience where adequate sleep led to fewer behavioral problems.
Also, in a study conducted on 1522 European adolescents, the participants who had insufficient (less than 8 hours) or borderline insufficient sleep (between 8 and 9 hours) were more likely to make bad quality choices compared with the participants who’s sleep duration was optimal (greater than or equal to 9 hours).
So what can you do to help your toddler get a better night’s sleep? Sleep hygiene is very important but another way to get good sleep is by eating certain foods that promote sleep.
According to research, foods that contain tryptophan and promote the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin may be the most helpful in helping your toddler sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid, and amino acids come from dietary protein. Tryptophan helps produce the neurotransmitter serotonin which performs many functions in the body. One important function being the conversion to melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Zinc and magnesium have also been shown to help with sleep as have vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and B-group vitamins. Melatonin is a hormone but it can also be found in food. Calcium and magnesium can help relax muscles which promotes sleep.
These smoothies contain lots of nutrients and compounds that can help your toddler sleep better and longer.
1. Sleep-promoting evening shake
The main three ingredients in this shake are bananas, almond milk and oats.
Almond milk is sleep-promoting because almonds contain melatonin as well as calcium and magnesium, so they are sleep promoting and help to relax muscles.
Bananas are high in potassium and contain magnesium too – great for relaxing muscles.
Oats contain tryptophan, as well as carbohydrates which help the body absorb the tryptophan more effectively.
2. Bedtime green smoothie
In addition to the banana which works as a muscle relaxant with its potassium and magnesium content, Kiwi fruit is one of the main ingredients in this smoothie.
Kiwi fruit is a sleep promoter because it contains a number of sleep-promoting compounds including melatonin, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Chamomile tea is widely known as a sleep-promoting beverage. Research points to a flavonoid compound in the tea called apigenin as the sleep-promoting property. Apigenin is known to activate GABA A receptors which can stimulate sleep. responsible for chamomile’s sleep-inducing properties.
So is chamomile safe for children? Certainly. Chamomile is great for muscle pain in kids. It can also relieve headaches and ease mild anxiety.
This smoothie also contains almond milk which contains melatonin for sleep, and calcium and magnesium to relax the muscles.
3. Chocolate cherry smoothie
The chocolate cherry smoothie is not only delicious but contains cherries, an ingredient we haven’t mentioned so far, and what toddler doesn’t like chocolate?
Cherries contain three different sleep-promoting compounds: melatonin, tryptophan, and potassium. They also contain serotonin but serotonin does not cross the blood-brain barrier so unfortunately doesn’t promote sleep. Researchers speculate that antioxidants called polyphenols in tart cherries may also influence sleep regulation.
This recipe also contains cacao which is high in magnesium, a muscle relaxant.
4. Green smoothie for sleep
Last but not least is this healthy green smoothie containing spinach, bananas, dates, peanut butter, and almond or soy milk. This is a vegan recipe but you can always substitute the vegan milk for dairy milk.
Dairy milk can help your toddler sleep because it contains melatonin, tryptophan, calcium and vitamin D.
Peanuts also contain tryptophan so the peanut butter in this recipe will add to the sleep effect. Obviously if your toddler has a nut allergy, you should stay away from this one.
This smoothie also features banana which contains muscle relaxants potassium and magnesium.