The claim: Chocolate can be disruptive to sleep.
The fact: Chocolate can stir up feelings of affection and awaken the taste buds, but some people wonder if it can have a less pleasant side effect – keeping them up at night.
Chocolate contains caffeine, as many people know, but in varying amounts depending on the type. A 42.5g Hershey’s milk chocolate bar, for example, contains 9 mg of caffeine – about three times as much as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. However, a dark chocolate Hershey’s candy bar has far more – about 30mg. That is the same as a cup of instant tea and slightly less than a typical cup of brewed tea which contains about 40mg of caffeine.
In other words, a dark chocolate desert, eaten late enough, might leave you counting plenty of sheep.
Chocolate also has other stimulants. One is theobromine, the compound that makes chocolate dangerous to dogs and cats because they metabolise it so slowly. Theobromine, which increases heart rate and causes sleeplessness, is found in small amounts in chocolate, especially the dark variety. The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding chocolate – as well as coffee, tea and soft drinks – before bedtime.
However, there is an alternative. White chocolate does not contain any theobromine and little if any caffeine.
The bottom line: Eating chocolate at night may keep you awake.
- The New York Times