With their rapidly growing bodies and excess energy, kids need a lot more sleep than adults. A five-year-old, for example, needs between ten and 12 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, many parents struggle with getting their little ones to embrace bedtime and fall asleep on time.
If this is you, one thing you may want to include in your child's nighttime routine is giving them a healthy snack about an hour before they go to bed. Foods that contain tryptophan—an amino acid that can encourage drowsiness—make good choices. Turkey and chicken meat, bananas, light healthy carbohydrates such as popcorn or unsweetened cereal, and non-sweetened dairy foods can all help your child fall asleep.
There are several types of foods that should be avoided at bedtime, as they can have the opposite effect and keep your child awake. Here are five foods kids shouldn't eat at nighttime.
1. Sugary Foods and Drinks
Sweet foods before bed do not lead to sweet dreams. While research hasn't quite determined why sugar interferes with sleep, one theory is that the spike in blood sugar it causes disrupts our sleep hormones, affecting our ability to sleep and stay asleep through the night. Plus, sugar isn't good for teeth and contains empty calories. It's far better to give your child a small apple, banana, or a handful of grapes if they're craving something sweet at bedtime.
2. Caffeinated Foods
It goes without saying that any foods with caffeine shouldn't be consumed at bedtime, but they should also be avoided earlier in the day as well, as caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours (that's how long it takes the body to eliminate half the drug.) Its effects can linger on longer.
It isn't just found in soda, either. Hot cocoa, chocolate, and some types of ice cream can contain caffeine, so you may want to restrict these foods after dinner. Instead of serving chocolate cake after dinner, try making a healthy fruit-based dessert such as these grilled peaches with coconut nice-cream.
3. Spicy/Acidic Foods
Although children aren't as prone to heartburn like adults are, some spicy foods may cause discomfort and keep them awake. Acidic foods such as orange juice, pizza, and spaghetti sauce don't make suitable bedtime snack choices as your child may burp up the acid.
4. Fatty Foods
Fatty foods such as red and processed meat can make your child's digestive tract work harder, making it more difficult for them to sleep well. The high protein content in these foods can also interfere with sleep.
5. Cruciferous Vegetables
Yes, veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain antioxidants and other nutrients that are great for kids. But the high fiber content of these foods also tend to make them gassy and could keep your child up later. You may want to serve them only at lunch or in small portions at dinnertime to prevent them from interfering with sleep.
These Bedtime Food No-Nos Are Not Just For Kids
Although kids should avoid eating these types of foods to get quality shuteye, adults should stay clear of them as well. Know how much sleep you need and then create a bedtime routine for you and your child, so both of you will always feel your best and ready to take on the day together!
When you and your child have energy from a great night’s sleep, you can enjoy working out together. Check out our mom workout classes with Fit4Mom to find a fitness routine that is right for you.
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