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Does Dark Chocolate Help You Sleep?

Mara Mennicken

Many people love to snack on chocolate before bedtime, but does it help you sleep? Dark chocolate, in particular, has been touted for its potential sleep-promoting properties. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the potential benefits of dark chocolate for sleep, and whether or not it’s a good idea to indulge in this sweet treat before bed.

What Is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cocoa solids and less sugar than milk chocolate. It typically has a bitter flavour and is often used in baking, and cooking, and enjoyed as a standalone treat. Dark chocolate is also known to have a variety of potential health benefits, such as improved heart health and lowered blood pressure.

But what about its effects on sleep? Recent research suggests that dark chocolate may be beneficial for a good night’s rest. Studies have found that the cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate can help to improve sleep quality and duration. The flavanols are thought to affect the body’s production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep.

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Dark Chocolate And Sleep

So, can dark chocolate help you sleep? While there is no definitive answer, some studies have suggested that there may be a correlation between when you eat dark chocolate and you will get improved sleep quality.

One reason why dark chocolate may help with sleep is its magnesium content. Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in regulating the body’s internal clock and helping to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Additionally, magnesium may help to promote relaxation and calmness, which can be beneficial for individuals struggling with sleep.

Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, a stimulant that can boost mood and energy levels. While this might seem counterproductive to getting a good night’s sleep, theobromine has been shown to have a relaxing effect on the body that can lead to improved sleep quality.

In addition to magnesium and theobromine, eating chocolate also contains small amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that is used by the body to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is linked to feelings of calmness and relaxation.

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Tips For Consuming Dark Chocolate Before Bed

If you’re looking to use dark chocolate as a natural sleep aid, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Stick to high-quality dark chocolate: Look for dark chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa solids and little added sugar. This will ensure that you’re getting the most potential sleep-promoting benefits from your chocolate.
  2. Avoid overindulging: While eating or drinking chocolate can be beneficial for sleep, it’s important to consume it in moderation. Eating too much chocolate can lead to a sugar rush and make it harder to fall asleep.
  3. Pair dark chocolate with other sleep-promoting foods: For an extra boost, try pairing your dark chocolate with foods that are high in tryptophan, such as turkey, bananas, or almonds.
  4. Avoid consuming dark chocolate too close to bedtime: It’s generally a good idea to avoid eating or drinking anything too close to bedtime, as it can lead to disruptions in your sleep cycle. If you do want to snack on some dark chocolate before bed, aim to consume it at least an hour before you plan on going to sleep.

How Does Cocoa In Dark Chocolate Affects Sleep Hormones?

The cocoa in dark chocolate contains antioxidants, flavanols, and other compounds that are believed to have sleep-promoting effects. One of the key compounds in cocoa is anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the body’s sleep hormones. 

Anandamide helps to regulate the activity of melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for controlling our sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, cocoa has been found to increase the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps reduce stress and promote relaxation.

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Possible Benefits Of Eating Dark Chocolate Before Bedtime

1. Improved Sleep Quality:

Dark chocolate may help improve sleep quality by increasing the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is linked to feelings of calmness and relaxation. Additionally, the antioxidants and flavanols found in dark chocolate can reduce stress levels and help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

2. Increased Relaxation:

Theobromine, a compound found in dark chocolate, has been shown to act as a mild stimulant. Consuming dark chocolate before bed can help you feel more relaxed and make it easier to transition into sleep.

3. Improved Mood:

Studies have suggested that the antioxidants and flavanols found in dark chocolate may help improve mood by increasing levels of endorphins and serotonin. This can further help relax you and make it easier to fall asleep.

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Potential Downsides To Eating Too Much Dark Chocolate

1. Increased Caffeine Intake:

Dark chocolate does contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that can interfere with your sleep. If you are sensitive to caffeine or consume too much dark chocolate before bedtime, it may be harder to drift off and stay asleep.

2. High Sugar Content:

Dark chocolate often contains high levels of sugar, which can cause a sugar rush. This can lead to energy spikes and disturbances in your sleep cycle.

3. Increased Anxiety:

Dark chocolate may also increase anxiety levels due to its high caffeine content and potential for a sugar rush. If you suffer from anxiety, it’s best to avoid dark chocolate close to bedtime.

Conclusion

Dark chocolate can be a great snack before bedtime due to its sleep-promoting compounds such as anandamide and its ability to improve mood. However, it is important to consume dark chocolate in moderate amounts and avoid eating it too close to bedtime due to its potential for stimulating the body and increasing anxiety levels. Additionally, it’s best to pair dark chocolate with other sleep-producing foods such as those high in tryptophan. By doing this, you may be able to reap the benefits of dark chocolate while avoiding any potential downsides.

While more research is needed to fully understand the link between dark chocolate and sleep, there is some evidence to suggest that it may have potential sleep-promoting benefits. If you’re struggling with sleep, incorporating some high-quality dark chocolate into your diet may be worth a try. However, as with any dietary changes, it’s always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet.

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About the Author Mara Mennicken


I am a chocolate lover and health enthusiast. I believe in nurturing my body with the best I can find because I want to turn 100 healthy years old.

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