Kids Can’t Sleep?… The role of calcium

sleepblogpostSometimes kids complain that they can’t fall asleep and they are up until 11 or 12 at night.  This can drive parents crazy as it eats into their own downtime, not to mention it can make for a grumpy morning.

But lack of sleep also leads to reduced concentration and ability to learn and can also impair growth and lead to weight gain. Getting kids to fall into a circadian rhythm is important for their hormone balance.  Kids need 10-13 hrs of sleep a night. Our need for sleep reduces as we age.

So what about this “mind racing at night” phenomenon?

Getting enough sleep is often thought of primarily as a hormone regulation issue.  And it is. Usually.  Too much of the hormone cortisol and not enough melatonin are usual suspects when it comes to sleep issues in kids.  Stress, blood sugar and anxiety can be important players in sleep issues.

But lack of calcium can also lead to that brain-never-shutting-off feeling and result in an inability of falling asleep

If your child is up too late at night, here are a few things to try…

  • Add magnesium to the evening ritual. Put it in the bath in the form of epsom salt, or try an oral supplement or a topical spray.  Magnesium is needed to metabolize calcium.  Even if your child is getting enough calcium in the diet, a magnesium deficiency can result in poor absorption of that calcium. Magnesium is also a calming mineral in and of itself
  • Get more vitamin D in.  My favourite source is cod liver oil, but D drops can also help.  Vitamin D is also important for calcium metabolism
  • If you suspect your child is not getting enough calcium in the diet try a liquid calcium supplement in the evening.   Some other signs of calcium deficiency are:  poor bone health, lethargy, finger numbness, poor appetite, muscle cramps.

A few other things to help kids sleep…

  • Melatonin is a calming neurotransmitter.  It can be given orally.  Check with your doctor on that one.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark.  Light interferes with production of melatonin which is needed for sleep.  If your child insists on a nightlight, remove it once they have fallen asleep
  • No TV or electronics 2 hrs before going to bed as the blue light from these devices interferes with melatonin production
  • Low level of B12 is associated with insomnia.  This can be checked by your doctor.

Being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep can be complicated to figure out.  But checking your child’s dietary calcium is a good place to start as getting a good night’s sleep is critical for proper growth and development.

Does your young child stay awake until all hours?  What has helped them sleep?  Let us know in the comments below….

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