Can chocolate really disrupt your sleep?

Does chocolate affect a good night's sleep?

Who doesn't appreciate the wonderful taste of chocolate? Classed as the most popular sweet treat in the world, this guilty pleasure is enjoyed on a daily basis by both adults and children alike.

According to The World Atlas of Chocolate, the chocolate industry in the UK is currently worth a jaw-dropping £3.96 billion, with the UK taking the seventh position of highest consumption of chocolate in the world! Not only this, it has been revealed that the average Brit consumes 17.49lbs of chocolate per year - with 22% of that being consumed between 8 pm and midnight.

But with an increasing emphasis on health and wellbeing, we are being encouraged to re-evaluate our lifestyle choices and the effect it has on our body, mind and mental health - including our ability to get a quality nights sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has recommended that amongst other foods and drinks, chocolate before bed should also be avoided, but the question is commonly asked - can chocolate really affect you getting a good nights sleep?

The relationship between chocolate and sleep

Unfortunately, like many other foods that we are continuously discouraged from eating before bedtime, chocolate also makes it to the top of the list of foods to avoid to ensure a good nights sleep. Undeniably, consuming chocolate has its benefits for the body with Cocoa offering a good source of magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc and many antioxidants. However, just like tea and coffee, it is possible that the hidden source of caffeine in chocolate bars could potentially be the reason that you are counting sheep at night.

On average, a milk chocolate bar contains 9 milligrams of caffeine, which is three times more than a normal decaffeinated cup of coffee. For those keen on dark chocolate, it is known that they contain a whopping 40-80 milligrams of caffeine, which is almost as much as a cup of coffee or a brewed cup of tea.

Keeping this in mind, it is said that indulging in chocolate close to bedtime, especially dark chocolate, can affect your sleep in the same way that a cup of tea or coffee might. Aside from the caffeine, chocolate contains other stimulants such as theobromine, which is commonly known as the compound that is both harmful to cats and dogs but is also known to increases heart rate and lead to sleeplessness. Although small amounts of this compound are found most varieties of chocolate, like caffeine, these are mostly present in dark chocolate.

Struggling to part with this guilty pleasure, milk chocolate does not containing any theobromine and has very little caffeine and is the one chocolate that can be enjoyed without affecting your quality of sleep.

Benefits of Chocolate

It's not all bad news for chocolate lovers though, as it also comes with many benefits. Research carried out by the International Journal of Psychophysiology revealed that even just smelling chocolate promotes relaxation effects on the brain by reducing theta activity. Not only this, but it has also proven to increase levels of the neurotransmitter Serotonin which is sometimes described as the natural happiness drug, as well as dopamine which is a natural painkiller. Combined, these chemicals can assist with increasing feelings of positivity and energy.

Whether you like to keep it healthy with dark chocolate or go all out with milk and white chocolate, just by changing the timing of when you eat this sweet treat can make all the difference in you enjoying that good night's sleep.

If chocolate isn't the problem and your bed or mattress is causing you sleepless nights – well we can help you there! Just browse our extensive range of both beds and mattresses from top brands including Bentley Designs, Friendship Mill, Harrison, Mammoth and​ Silentnight to name a few, or even better, visit us at our showroom to try the mattresses yourself before you buy - we're always happy to help!