4 Ways Nutrition Affects Sleep


Ensuring that you get adequate nutrition plays a significant role in your overall health, but did you also know that it can highly affect your quality of sleep?

Here’s What You Need To Know:

  • Sleep expert and founder of My Sweet Sleeper, Rachel Mitchell, breaks down 4 major ways nutrition contributes to poor sleep.
  • Babies and toddlers experience sleep disruption when they don’t get the right nutrients.
  • Macros, which stands for macronutrients, are key to a balanced diet for adults and children.
  • The recommended amount of milk per feed is anywhere between 4.5-6 ounces for both breast-fed and formula-fed babies in the first year. Try not to give your baby more than that before bed.
  • Ideally, your baby is taking milk every 3 hours throughout the day in the first year of life, plus solids 2-3 times per day if over 6 months of age.
  • Spicy foods, foods with a lot of citrus, foods high in sugar and fat, and foods with too much dairy can affect your baby’s quality of sleep.

Nutrition is one of the key pillars when it comes to getting healthy and adequate amounts of sleep.

#1 Your family’s health

Think about a time that you went to sleep after eating foods that upset your stomach or caused a spike in sugar levels. You likely had difficulty falling or staying asleep as your body worked hard to digest these foods that may or may not have been healthy choices for your body.

Similarly, babies and toddlers can experience the same disruptions in their sleep when they aren’t getting the right kind of nutrition close to their sleep periods. This is why understanding the way that nutrition affects your child’s sleep is important and can make a huge difference when it comes to helping your baby get the sleep they need.

Let’s look at some of the biggest ways nutrition can affect your baby’s sleep.

Your Baby Is Overly Full When Put Down for Sleep

It is a myth that you need to stuff your baby before bed. While ensuring your baby does get a decent feed before naps and bedtime is important, the goal is not to fill them with large amounts of food or milk, as this will likely cause a lot of uncomfort for your baby and possibly even reflux. The recommended amount of milk per feed is anywhere between 4.5-6 ounces for both breast-fed and formula-fed babies in the first year, so try not to give your baby more than that before bed (breastfed babies typically don’t get more than this anyway when nursing). If your baby is eating solids, just ensure they are getting about a fist size a couple hours before bed and not right before.

On the other hand, your baby might not be getting enough nutrition. Remember: full doesn’t mean nutrient-dense.

It is possible that your baby may not be taking in the recommended amounts during the day, which can cause them to wake at night looking for a feed or in some cases have trouble falling asleep. Ideally, your baby is taking milk every 3 hours throughout the day in the first year of life, plus solids 2-3 times per day if over 6 months of age. If you find that your baby is refusing to eat during scheduled feedings it might be because they are being fed too frequently overnight so you want to work on shifting those calories.

You also may need to mention this to your pediatrician if you are concerned and notice that your baby is refusing meals frequently.

Summary

Nutrition and sleep go hand in hand from a young age, so by prioritizing good nutrition for your baby/toddler, you are also prioritizing sleep. If you feel lost or overwhelmed when it comes to managing your child’s nutrition,

know there are many options and resources available to you from Yumi’s in house nutritionist to their nutrition and food plans. Even slight exposure in the first 1,000 days of life can have lasting effects.

Editor’s Note

There has been a sharp increase in melatonin supplements over the last ten years. Melatonin is the hormone that helps us sleep, and is regulated by the FDA as a dietary supplement. Melatonin is sold over-the-counter for adults and children, often in a gummy form for kids. While there are no long-term studies on the effects of melatonin on children, new research from the Center for Disease Control reports an increase in melatonin overdoses in children over the last decade. According to the study, in 2021 U.S. poison control centers received over 52,000 calls regarding children consuming large amounts of melatonin. Hospitalizations and more serious outcomes have also increased in children. The study explains that reasons for this are unclear, though could be related to variability in melatonin content across different products. Melatonin should always been locked up and kept out of reach from children.

Want additional sleep help? Here are some links that can help you out!

Managing Night Time Fears with Toddlers

Two Reasons to Breastfeed for Better Sleep


Rachel Mitchell is the founder of My Sweet Sleeper. She is a certified Pediatric & Maternity Sleep Consultant, former night nanny, and mom of six (soon to be seven). My Sweet Sleeper was born shortly after she had her first child ten years ago when I realized how little information she received about sleep and how valuable this would have been going home with a brand new baby. Even with her experience working with children, she had no idea where to start when it came to getting her baby to sleep. Like many, she worried she would never get a good night’s rest again. Since starting My Sweet Sleeper, Rachel has worked with thousands of families all over the world. She says, “I have had the rewarding experience of helping their children sleep better. It truly is one of the most wonderful professions, and I genuinely look forward to each new family I get to help.”

Rachel’s Nerdiest Fact

I keep track of almost every dollar I spend on a spreadsheet and find immense joy in this!

About the Author

Rachel Mitchell

Rachel Mitchell, Certified Pediatric & Maternity Sleep Consultant, founder, My Sweet Sleeper

Sources

  • Lelak K, Vohra V, Neuman MI, Toce MS, Sethuraman U. Pediatric Melatonin Ingestions — United States, 2012–2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:725–729. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7122a1external icon.