Every once in a while, we find reasons to have some chocolate; as dessert, gift ideas and even a snack when we are travelling or working. While it is considered a snack, chocolate is also rich in healthy nutrients in addition to sugar and fat.
Cocoa beans have been found to be rich in flavonoids whose anti-oxidation properties reduce the occurrence of cell damage which is the main cause of heart disease.
Reports indicate that it can be a healthy food choice if consumed in moderation (3). Cocoa powder has high caffeine levels that may negatively impact your sleep if consumed before bedtime.
Are There Side Effects To Eating Chocolate Before You Go To Bed?
About 50% of the American population has been reported to be suffering from insomnia at some point in their lives. An adult requires 8 hours of quality sleep for their body to operate optimally, and this sleep requirement drops slightly with age. This recommendation is per the
National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommendations that have study results indicating that people over 65 experience the highest rate of sleep difficulty.
While depression, emotional turmoil, and terminal illness are top on the list of factors for inadequate sleep, consumption of caffeine-rich food before sleep has also been held culprit (1).
So, why does eating chocolate before bed make me stay awake? It is because the caffeine you have ingested stimulates your brain and prevents it from shutting down even though you have gotten into bed. To avoid going through this, stop eating foods or drinking beverages with caffeine at least a few hours before you sleep (1).
Eating chocolate before bed gives nightmares. If you have ever fallen asleep only to wake up in a sweaty jolt because you saw yourself falling from the sky or cliff, it might be time to reconsider what you are eating. Nightmares can take the form of different scenarios, but the bottom line is that they get you frightened.
Did you know that sugary foods can increase your chances of getting nightmares? According to study results published by the Frontiers in Psychology, 31% of study participants reported having disturbing dreams every time they ate foods rich in sugar, such as chocolate, cake, and candy, right before they slept. The effects were relatively more severe for those who ate chocolate before going to bed. Eating white chocolate before bed is therefore not a good idea (4).
Poor Dental Hygiene
Regardless of whether sugary food is eaten in its natural state or after processing, it contains sugar, which can damage your teeth. Decay is especially common for people who love taking snacks before they go to sleep.
Even though all chocolate types contain some refined sugars, white chocolate contains very high sugar content. Therefore, it is bad for your teeth to be eating white chocolate before bed, even though some people argue that if they brush their teeth before bed, it’s not a problem.
Chocolate is best taken alongside other foods so that food fiber can help to neutralize the sugar and remove it from the teeth cavities (12).
Can eating chocolate before bed make you feel bad in the morning? Yes! Every time you swallow food, it travels down the gut and lands in the stomach, all the way being guided by strong muscles that contract and expand to allow the food through.
At the opening of the stomach after the mouth is a muscle, the esophageal sphincter, which functions as a valve and locks in food that has been deposited into the stomach. If this muscle malfunctions, a mixture of food and digestive acids will come up the esophagus.
This irregular backward flow of food results in a burning sensation in the chest and throat area that is simply referred to as heartburn (8).
Heartburn is common at night when the body is in rest mode because the body is in horizontal alignment instead of during the day when it is vertical. While there are major risk factors for heartburn at night, including stress, obesity, alcohol consumption, and overeating, many people experience heartburn in sleep after eating chocolate foods (4).
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6 Foods That You Should Eat Before Bed
You might have experienced that sudden jolt of energy after a glass of fruit juice or felt overly drowsy after getting full; what you felt was a direct effect of the food you had eaten. However, it is interesting how two people will react in the exact opposite way after eating the same meal.
On numerous occasions, sleep, and nutrition experts have come together to uncover the mystery of insomnia (9). While every individual has their routine and diet that will get them to sleep fast and better, the following foods have been found to offer almost similar results for many people.
The hairy-looking, oval fruit is grown in plantations worldwide, but its origins can be traced to New Zealand. The fruit which is available in either gold or green variety is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. Some study results suggest that kiwi improves sleep; eat two kiwi fruits an hour before bedtime and experience faster, heavier, and quality sleep.
The ability of the kiwi fruit to induce sleep can be attributed to its antioxidants. Kiwis also minimize the effects of folate deficiency (13).
Tart Cherries Fruit And Juice
Unlike the majority of cherries that have a sweet flavor, tart cherries taste sour. When you go to the grocery store, you will find this fruit in cultivators from Montmorency, English morello, or Richmond.
Studies indicate that tart cherry juice is highly beneficial when it comes to sleep matters. A single cup of this juice taken a few minutes before bedtime led to longer sleep time and better quality sleep.
The success of tart fruit and juice in inducing sleep stems from the fact that they contain melatonin in high concentration. Melatonin is the hormone that promotes sleep and maintains the sleep pattern of an individual (9).
It has been discovered that milk taken from cows late in the evening contains higher melatonin levels compared to when the cow is milked during the day.
The aforementioned is a natural sleep inducer for those who have trouble falling and sleeping well because one need not worry about side effects.
Previous studies have also shown that a glass of milk taken right before bed causes the consumer to sleep for extended periods without interruptions. Another milk form to consider before sleeping is malted milk, which results from mixing regular milk with powdered wheat, powdered barley, sugar, and vitamins (10).
In a study on the effects of fish-rich diets conducted for more than eight months, it was found that better sleep could be achieved by eating fatty fish at dinner time. During the study period, it was discovered that if someone ate salmon a minimum of 3 times every week, they generally experienced better sleep, which trickled over to their daily performance, a direct indication of improvement (6).
The conclusion made by the researchers is that the omega three oils and vitamin D contained in fish helped the body to regulate the production of serotonin. When fish consumption was a bit diminished in winter, participants reported having problematic sleep (6).
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There are many nut types like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios that are typically healthy dietary fats and oils. Additionally, nuts are considered to be great sleep enhancers.
Since the nutritional value of each of the nut classes varies, it is essential to eat the correct amount to obtain the right amount of melatonin flowing in the blood. Nuts also contain zinc and magnesium that help to support key body processes and functions.
A clinical trial was conducted with supplements being the source of minerals. In the end, adults achieve better sleep.
Studies, where sleep study has been done alongside carbohydrates, show a direct correlation between eating high glycemic index carbohydrates and falling asleep easily (8).
A study of participants drawn from japan led to the conclusion that people who consumed high GI rice, fell asleep faster compared to those who opted for low GI rice. The high glycemic index that was achieved in the first group was considered as a major factor supporting why this lot fell asleep more easily (8).
Chocolate is a sugary food, and while we will always find an excuse to eat it any time of the day, it is important to consider factors such as how much you are eating, how long it is before you go to sleep, and how often you will be indulging. Sugary foods are high in starch, but that does not make them recommended carbohydrates. Indeed, more research is needed in this area to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates as far as sleep is concerned.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 12 Foods That Sabotage Sleep (n.d., aarp.org)
- Associations between rice, noodle, and bread intake and sleep quality in Japanese men and women (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams (2015, academia.edu)
- Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality (2016, academic.oup.com)
- Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
- High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Melatonin and Sleep (2020, sleepfoundation.org)
- Melatonin in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood (2005, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sleep after a bedtime beverage (1972, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Tackling tooth decay (2013, jada.ada.org)
- The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Zinc in diet (n.d., medlineplus.gov)