Getting a good nights sleep is important to our physical and mental health.
There is a reason why we joke about sleep deprivation being a form of torture!
Not getting enough sleep can lead to poor concentration, memory, behavioral
problems and can also lead to unwanted weight gain. No body wants any of
that. We want to enjoy life, not fumble our way through it.
Improving sleep habits or sleep hygiene can be a great start in getting a good
nights sleep. Sleep hygiene can be obtained by having a few routines or by
avoiding certain things before bedtime to help your body settle into rest.
1. Limit daytime napping, although a short 30-minute nap through the day
can aid in mood and alertness.
2. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, dark chocolate and alcohol close to
bedtime
3. Regular exercise can promote a good nights sleep
4. Avoid disruptive foods before bed (fatty or fried, spicy foods,
carbonated drinks)
5. Establish a relaxing routine before bedtime. Include a bath, reading a
book or stretching exercises before bedtime.
6. Make the room pleasant. Make sure your bed and pillow is
comfortable, temperature is cool and screens off (TV, laptop, mobile
phone).
The thing is, having all that lovely sleep routine might go out the window if
your child is having sleep issues as well. If your child doesn’t sleep, you don’t
sleep. Simple.
Implementing the same routines mentioned above will obviously help your
child as well, but sometimes what we are eating or what we aren’t eating
enough of could be the difference between sleep… and insanity.
Ensuring your child’s blood sugar level is balanced is important. Having an
excess amount of sugar in the blood can stimulate your child, and stimulate
restlessness leading to sleep issues. On the flip side, too low of a blood sugar
level can cause the body to release the hormone cortisol. One of cortisol’s
jobs is to release stored blood sugar, giving us energy. If that happens during
the night or in the very-early- hours-of- the-morning, then you have disturbed
sleep because the cortisol has given you energy to wake up. Or you might
wake up hungry because the blood sugar has dropped and you’re being
prodded awake to go find food for energy. To keep blood sugar levels from
fluctuating, replace high sugar or high G.I foods such as white bread, white
rice or sugary snacks with low G.I foods such as brown or whole meal bread,
brown rice, and nuts and seeds for the evening meal.
Good hormone balance is also a key ingredient in creating a good night’s
sleep. Melatonin is the main hormone that is required in getting us to sleep
and is created by another hormone, serotonin. Serotonin controls our moods
and helps create feelings of well-being and relaxation. In order to create these

hormones our bodies need the amino acid tryptophan found in some protein
rich foods. Including foods such as lean chicken and turkey, fish, dairy, some
nuts and seeds including pumpkin and sesame seeds will boost tryptophan
which may be enough to drift you or your little one to sleep.
Getting enough of the mineral magnesium is also vital in sleep quality.
Magnesium is well known as the relaxation mineral, but it is involved in
hundreds of other functions as well. It’s role with sleep quality is to help
control our cortisol levels along with helping our muscles relax. Magnesium
can be found in most fruits and vegetables, along with beans and legumes,
brown bread, cashews and sunflower seeds. Oh and cacao, the main
ingredient of chocolate!!! But remember a little chocolate goes a long way…
A well balanced diet combined with sleep hygiene tips are the basics in
getting you and your children on the way to a well rested night.