Everyone needs sleep. There is no wonder why sleep deprivation is a torture technique. But for many parents, their kid’s sleep is a source of frustration and anxiety.
There are so many reasons why kids don’t sleep well. And allergy children are often poor sleepers, particularly if their allergies cause them discomfort or food issues.
Being hungry is one reason kids sleep poorly. For some children it is waking through the night, other’s it is the tendency to wake up super early in the morning. Either way it disrupts good sleep for the child, and consequently for the parents.
Below are my 3 food essentials for promoting longer, good quality sleep for your kids (and by default, you!)
Regularly I hear parents complain about children not eating dinner. So before I touch on the three elements that make up a dinner that will promote longer, quality sleep, let’s quickly touch on the issue of kids that don’t eat dinner.
There is generally two reasons kids don’t eat dinner, and often they are misunderstood by parents. The simple first reason is that the child is too tired. Toddlers and pre-schoolers, even infant’s school kids, are so so busy through the day, that come 6pm they are busted. This fatigue leads to lack of appetite. Some parents overcome this situation by moving dinnertime earlier. Others focus on a bigger, nutritious afternoon tea meal, followed by a smaller, simpler dinner. Both are great options for overcoming the fatigue effecting dinnertime.
The second reason kids don’t eat dinner, is because they are actually full. They have eaten well all day, and their body is telling them that their nutrient requirements for the day have already been met. This means they do not feel hungry. This lack of appetite due to nutrient levels being met is actually a self-regulation mechanism. If we force kids to eat, this mechanism eventually switches off, which is the case for most adults and can contribute considerably to over-eating and associated issues. Before you force your child to eat, consider whether they are really hungry, and how well they have eaten through the day, and also in the previous days. It may just be that they have already eaten enough.
Whether they eat a larger meal earlier in the afternoon, or at dinner time, there are three essential elements to keeping them feeling full overnight.
- Protein- ensure dinner includes a source of protein, be that meat, eggs, tofu, whatever works, as this helps keep us feeling satisfied
- Good fats- ensure dinner features good fats as there help stabilise blood sugar and keep us feeling satisfied, include things like avocado, dairy, nuts, olive oil
- Wholegrains- keep dinner carbohydrates to whole grains, they are high in fibre helping us to feel full for longer and regulating blood sugar levels, choose wholemeal pastas, brown rice
The timing of the meal is not as important as what it contains. Getting there elements right will mean that your child goes to be feeling satisfied to last the night. Just remember to leave at least an hour between dinner and bed, so that the body has time to begin digesting the food before sleep.
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