Get a good night’s sleep – how diet can help

If bedtimes and routine have slipped over the summer holidays, you’re not alone. But it will make starting school easier if kids are well rested and getting up in good time to get ready for school. Try to allow a week or so to adjust their routine.


Avoid caffeine

Even if kids aren’t coffee drinkers, they could still be consuming caffeine from other sources. As it can affect sleep, steer clear of caffeine-containing cola, energy drinks, tea and chocolate.

Find out more about caffeine

Go easy on sugar

A study on young adults found that eating sugar significantly affected sleep quality, so try to skip the sweet stuff in the hours before bed.

Have a bedtime snack

A satisfied tum helps kids to settle, and also makes night-time wake-ups from hunger less likely. A snack high in protein will keep them feeling fuller for longer.

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Try tryptophan

This essential amino acid has been found to improve sleep. As it’s not produced by the body, you need to source it from your diet. Try oats, bananas, dried prunes, milk, tuna fish, cheese, bread, chicken, turkey, peanuts and chocolate.

More back-to-school sleep tips

  1. Read a bedtime story – it’s been shown to improve sleep. For younger children, choose a bedtime story about friendship or a school-based adventure to build positive thoughts about the new term.
  2. Try some relaxation before bed – how about yoga or mindfulness?
  3. Read more advice on how to establish a bedtime routine.

Boy running out of the front door, on his way to school

Set yourself up for a great morning – how diet can help

Feeling refreshed, positive and invigorated in the morning means kids are likely to have a better day at school. Here’s how you can help.

Eat breakfast

Studies show that eating breakfast improves focus and memory in young people . A combination of wholegrain carbs and protein will provide energy and keep them feeling fuller for longer. Try our healthy kids’ breakfast ideas.

Don’t forget to drink

While a good brekkie is important, so is a drink of water after a night without fluids. Even small differences in hydration affect learning, alertness and increase fatigue. A juice with water makes a good re-hydrator in the morning, and don’t forget to take a water bottle to school.

Moderate sugar

While the brain needs glucose to function, too much of the white stuff can impact learning. The relationship is complicated, with an initial improvement in recall and information processing after consuming a sugary drink, followed by a decline in energy associated with falling blood-sugar levels. Animal studies have demonstrated a high-fat, high-sugar diet having a negative effect on memory.

More positivity tips

  1. Put positive thinking into practice. Studies show that visualising a success makes it more likely to happen. So take a few minutes to imagine how well your morning could go; the added benefit being that you’ll go to bed on a positive note too.
  2. Sneak a surprise into their school bag to give your child a boost when they find it during the day. Whether it’s a note in their lunchbox, a new pen or some stickers, it’ll give them a smile during the day.
  3. Create excitement about the school day by providing little interesting nuggets for kids to chat about. Let your child know something interesting, any extra privileges or trips lined up for their year group, or give them a new hairstyle or pencil case to show off.

Further reading:

How to manage back-to-school anxiety

How to boost your child's immune system

Healthy lunchbox ideas for kids

6 ways to manage back-to-work anxiety

Young schoolgirl on her way into the playground, looking keen


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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