Superfood Recipes To Help Your Family Sleep
If you are a parent, you’ve probably tried every trick in the book to help your kids settle to sleep. From blackout blinds to bedtime stories, to cuddly sheep that play music - when our child is struggling to settle down for the night we’ll try just about anything!
You have likely given a second thought to letting them have blue ice cream before bed, limiting the amount of sugar, colourings and artificial sweeteners racing around their system, but have you thought about actively choosing healthy foods that help them to sleep? These superfoods can also help us grown-ups to drift off and forget a stressful day or worrying thoughts, so read on for a few ideas that you can incorporate into your family’s diet to help you all into a snoozy state, naturally.
Serving bananas in a fruit salad for dessert can actually help you to sleep! They are nutrient-dense and packed with magnesium, potassium and B6 - a powerful combination that helps your body to wind down.
Having a diet high in magnesium is linked to reduced stress and anxiety, and as stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia, increasing magnesium can help you to find calm and sleep. Magnesium also helps the body to regulate Gamma-Aminobytric acid (GABA) levels. GABA levels play an important role in slowing the brain when it is time to sleep so ensuring your diet is rich in magnesium helps this function to work effectively.
Our bodies know when it’s time to fall asleep, and begin to feel sleepy, because of a surge in melatonin levels. Melatonin levels are controlled by serotonin, the production of which is naturally aided by consuming vitamin B6.
Choosing oily fish such as salmon or trout for dinner is beneficial to the whole family’s health. Cooked into a fish pie with a creamy white sauce, topped with mashed potato, it not only fills up hungry tummies with a good dose of protein which will help kids to feel full for longer, but studies suggest that fish oils can help to support sleep.
Some fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular oily cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. A study of 395 children showed that taking 600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily for 16 weeks helped improve sleep quality* so incorporating these into your family meal plan could help children to sleep better.
Omega-3s are also proven to be highly beneficial in brain health in early life, as well as reducing inflammation, improving mental disorders and several studies link the consumption of Omega-3s with a lower risk of asthma in children - so there’s plenty of reasons to have fish on Friday (or any other day you fancy it!)
Making a homemade tomato sauce from scratch is super easy, a great way to use up that salad lurking at the bottom of the fridge, and will be far more delicious than anything that comes in a jar! It can also provide nutrients required for a night of healthy sleep.
Try this easy recipe for a sleep boosting vitamin-packed sauce to use on pasta, as pizza sauce, in a bolognese or however else you might like!
- As many fresh tomatoes as you have. Squidgy ones are fine!
- A couple of carrots, grated
- As many mushrooms as you have, torn into pieces
- A tin of passata or chopped tomatoes
- A chopped onion
- A pinch each of salt and pepper
Gently fry the onion in a spoonful of oil until it’s translucent, add all the other ingredients, put a lid on the pan and leave to cook on a low heat for an hour. Stir every 15 minutes. If you make a lot it freezes and keeps well, just divvy it up in portions and defrost as needed. The sauce can be blitzed to a completely smooth paste in a blender if required.
Tomatoes are one of the very best sources of lycopene, a mineral that supports the body to sleep. It is also a very powerful antioxidant packed with benefits for the whole body and the prevention of illnesses. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K and manganese.
A study by Pennsylvania University** found that diets low in alpha-carotene were linked with difficulties falling asleep. As the name suggests, carrots are the very best source of alpha-carotene so sneaking grated carrots into your homemade meals is a great way to boost your children’s intake. If you grate it finely and cook it down no one would even know it was in there!
One cup of mushrooms provides around a third of an adult’s recommended daily intake of selenium, as well as high amounts of vitamins B2 and B3. Studies have shown that individuals with high levels of selenium in the body fall asleep more easily, and are less likely to wake through the night.
So next time your child is having a bedtime battle, instead of reaching for gadgets or spending a fortune on expensive gizmos, consider whether you could help to set them up for a night of restful sleep by incorporating some different, nutrient-rich foods into their diet. You might find it helps you to snooze better too!