How is it August already? It’s time to get back to school and back to our family routines. The long carefree days of summer sometimes encourage parents to let bedtime stretch 30 minutes… or one or two hours… later than on a school night. Getting your kids back on board with “early to bed, early to rise” might be a challenge.
Cutting out screen time at least one hour before bed is a great way to help kids (and adults!) fall asleep and stay asleep. If your kids usually have a bedtime snack, rethink milk and cookies and opt for one of these sleep inducing treats instead. Your kids will practically be begging for their pajamas.
Snacks That Make You Sleepy
1. Banana and Almond Butter. The magnesium and potassium in bananas serve as a natural muscle and nerve relaxant. The protein and fiber in almond butter will ensure that your kids will stay asleep.
2. Hummus and Whole-Grain Bread. Hummus is a great source of tryptophan, which gets metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, two of the main chemicals responsible for getting you to sleep. Whole-grain bread triggers insulin production, which makes you feel sleepy by naturally raising your blood sugar.
3. Whole-Grain Crackers, Cheese, and Turkey. The protein in cheese will help you stay asleep while turkey is another great source of tryptophan. The calcium in cheese will also regulate involuntary muscle movements, reducing the chance of “twitching” awake.
4. Cherries. The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to increase your melatonin intake. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin. When eaten regularly, they can help regulate your sleep cycle.
5. Chocolate Covered Almonds. Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind. Almonds are packed with protein and fiber to curb hunger.
6. Watermelon. Each 2-cup serving is half water, which will hydrate kids before bed and eliminate post-dinner hunger pains with its fiber and volume.
7. Whole-Grain Crackers and Tuna Salad. Whole-Grain foods are great for regulating your blood sugar and fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin.
8. Honey-Sweetened Hot Chocolate. Milk, dark chocolate powder, and a touch of honey warmed on the stove is a drink that will send anyone off to dreamland. Dark chocolate is a natural source of serotonin and the calcium in milk helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture sleep-inducing melatonin. The natural sugar in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily.
9. Pistachios. A handful of pistachios packs protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep.
10. String Cheese. If your kids are complaining of hunger pangs, “string cheese” — part-skim mozzarella cheese — is packed with protein and makes for a satisfying pre-bed snack.
11. Pretzels. This one might surprise you. Pretzels have a high glycemic index, which means they will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, shortening the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Combine with nut butter for a snack with some staying power.
12. Whole-Grain Toast, Smoked Salmon, and Cream Cheese. If your kids are happy with tuna, give this one a try. Given what we already know about whole-grains and dairy, this snack should be no surprise. Like tuna, salmon is rich in vitamin B6, which aids in melatonin and serotonin production.
13. Oatmeal with Dried Cherries. Oats raise your blood sugar naturally and make you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep.
14. Baked Sweet Potato “Toast”. Baked sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium to help you relax. Drizzle with honey or a tablespoon of almond butter for a pre-bedtime treat.
15. Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Walnuts. The vitamin B6 in bananas converts tryptophan into serotonin, increasing the body’s ability to relax. Walnuts are another natural source of melatonin, which will help regulate your sleep cycle.
16. Bowl of Rice Cereal. A bowl of rice cereal before bed could help your kids get better sleep. The snack combines calcium from milk with carbs and the blood sugar spike from rice to help them get to sleep faster.
17. Cantaloupe. Dehydration can impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, so choosing to snack on a watery fruit like cantaloupe will help make up for any deficits.
For more back-to-school tips and tricks, visit The Pajama Company at our blog, thepajamacompany.com/blog.