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Experiment with your child's food intake to find the right amount of food to have in the evening. It takes around one hour for the tryptophan in foods to reach the brain, so don't wait until right before bedtime to have your snack.
A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain. Once there, tryptophan turns into serotonin - which murmurs: "time to sleep".
They're practically a sleeping pill in a peel! Bananas contain a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, as well as magnesium, a muscle relaxant.
Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating. But a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter linked to alertness.
It's not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan – an amino acid that has a sedative-like effect – and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus there's the psychological throw-back to infancy, when a warm bottle meant "relax, everything's fine".
Oats are a rich source of sleep-inviting melatonin. A small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cosy – and if you've got the munchies, it's filling too.
A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can be snooze-inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.
A small baked spud won't overwhelm your digestion, and it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To increase the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.
It's the most famous source of tryptophan, always credited for all those Christmas naps. But that's modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach's empty, not overstuffed, and when there are some carbs around, not tons of protein. So put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread mid-evening, and you've got one of the best sleep inducers in your kitchen.
As well as holding sleep workshops, we work with local authorities and the NHS in some areas to help parents with disabled children who have sleep disorders.
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