Can you imagine life without chocolate? We know the answer. We adore it so much that we would do anything to preserve it, even if it means putting on a few pounds.
Since time immemorial, chocolate has been our haven. However, you are not alone in worrying that consuming chocolate in the evening may impact your sleep quality. While your worries are legitimate, the type of chocolate, the cocoa variety, how it’s grown, and how it’s made, all affect how much caffeine is in it (or processed). This means different types of chocolates affect your sleep differently.
So let’s look into some of the active components in chocolate to try to understand which kind of chocolate affects our sleep and how.
Types of Chocolates
It’s not the proportion of sugar or milk solids that make up the different varieties of chocolate. Instead, it is the proportion of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. The most natural form of chocolate is the cacao bean. It can be picked and eaten immediately (cacao), roasted and ground into a powder (cocoa), or turned into chocolate.
What distinguishes dark chocolate from milk chocolate, then? Here is all the information you need regarding the different types of chocolates:
- Milk Chocolate: The most popular kind of chocolate is probably milk chocolate. It only has ten to 40% cacao blended with sugar and milk.
- Unsweetened Chocolate: Chocolate without sugar is a pure chocolate liquor created solely from crushed cocoa beans.
- Couverture Chocolate: The pricey variety of chocolate called couverture has a higher cocoa butter content than other types.
- White Chocolate: Other than cocoa butter, white chocolate is devoid of chocolate liquor. A minimum of 20% cocoa butter, a maximum of 55% sugar, and roughly 15% milk solids are all included in white chocolate.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate does not contain any milk solids. Additionally, it typically has more cocoa solids, ranging from 30% to 80%.
If you are worried, anxious, or stressed, cocoa or chocolate can help you calm down. Cocoa can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. This happens because of a process called biofeedback, in which the body tells the brain that it is calm.
What is Dark Chocolate?
​​Sugar, cocoa butter, and chocolate liquor are all ingredients in dark chocolate. It also contains lecithin as an emulsifier and vanilla for flavor but no milk solids. Dark chocolate bars can contain anywhere between 30% and 80% cocoa by weight. If you don’t add sugar to it, it’s called bitter chocolate or unsweetened chocolate.
In contrast to milk or butter in milk chocolate, dark chocolate only contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
Ingredients in a Dark Chocolate
It is nourishing if you get premium dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Naturally, 100 g (3.5 oz) is a substantial serving size and not something you should consume often. Additionally, these nutrients contain 600 calories and a tiny bit of sugar. It also contains large amounts of selenium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. It is also rich in minerals and has a fair quantity of soluble fiber.
Organic substances that are physiologically active and serve as antioxidants are abundant in dark chocolate, such as flavonols and polyphenols. The flavanols can boost skin density and hydration, protect against sun damage, and promote blood flow to the skin.
According to a study, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help reduce bad cholesterol when paired with other foods like almonds and cocoa. Long-term, this should result in lowering the risk of heart disease.
How Does it Help You Sleep Better?
Obviously, consuming dark chocolate is good for your health, but does it promote restful sleep? Although consuming a small amount of dark chocolate before bed shouldn’t disrupt your sleep, the results are skewed. However, it is known to help you relax.
According to studies, eating dark chocolate before bed may improve sleep quality since it contains an essential ingredient that supports body clock regulation – magnesium. Researchers claim that the magnesium in dark chocolate helps cells adapt to the body’s circadian cycle. The internal clock, or circadian rhythm, regulates various bodily processes, including temperature regulation, waking, and sleeping.
Additionally, tryptophan in dark chocolate aids sleep. Tryptophan helps in the production of sleep hormones, melatonin and serotonin. While melatonin helps control your sleep cycle, serotonin may help control your appetite, sleep, and mood.
Although dark chocolate has many nutrients and substances that relax the body and prepare you for sleep, it also has several ingredients that are known to interfere with sleep. Yes, you guessed it – caffeine. You can find about 5 to 20 mg of caffeine in one oz of dark chocolate, increasing to approximately 155 mg in one cup of coffee. If you are sensitive to caffeine and not careful about your consumption levels, dark chocolate may cause insomnia.
Sweeten Your Sleep
The effect of chocolate on your sleep varies based on how much you eat (or drink) it. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you might experience an increase in energy or alertness from chocolate, but regular coffee consumers probably won’t.
All that said, the best way to deal with sleep issues is to take every precaution to get a decent night’s sleep in the first place. We advise practicing good sleep hygiene, which includes having a relaxing wind-down ritual (do some gentle stretching and sip some herbal tea), avoiding strong light in the late evening (switch off your phone! ), and of course, going to bed at a reasonable hour.
This is crucial since chronically poor sleep is connected to several health issues, including weakened immunity, sleep apnea, and a higher risk of obesity and diabetes. Although, if you have a snoring partner who’s disrupting your sleep, you might want to invest in a smart anti-snoring solution, like Smart Nora, to get a good night’s rest. It is a science-backed device that is portable, contact-free, and works in silence.