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Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Peter

Does Hot Chocolate Help You Sleep?

Do you like chocolate? Or maybe the better question is whether there is anyone who doesn’t love eat chocolate and drink hot chocolate? Hot chocolate is a tasty, creamy beverage, which has other benefits besides its fantastic taste.

Chocolate is made from seeds that grow on a cacao tree. Humans have been consuming cocoa in various forms for more than 10,000 years. The fermentation process is necessary in order for very bitter cocoa beans to be turned into a favourite dessert. The higher the percentage of cocoa in chocolate, the more bitter the chocolate.

Chocolate is not the only thing made from cocoa, but you can also find chocolate liquor, butter and much more. If you melt chocolate in milk, and then add sugar, vanilla and other things you like, you get hot chocolate. Many consider hot chocolate even tastier than chocolate. It is very old beverage, popular even back in the days of Maya and Aztecs who consumed chocolate beverages often, so it is consider traditional indian drink.

Most very tasty things are not healthy. But this is not the case with hot chocolate, on the contrary. Chocolate and hot chocolate are beneficial for our body and can help you have restful sleep. Find out how hot chocolate affects sleep quality in the article by The Sleep Advisors.

Table of Contents
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    How does hot chocolate help you sleep?

    There are many ways hot chocolate helps you sleep. But let’s start with something general – bedtime routine. Bedtime routines can significantly help you, but also any change in bedtime routine may negatively affect night’s sleep. Therefore, a few steps from the routine should not be abruptly skipped. If hot chocolate becomes part of your bedtime routine, then the body will automatically begin to prepare for sleep as soon as you smell hot chocolate. This is definitely the first way it can help you sleep.

    Several studies have shown that the smell of chocolate in general reduces tension and will make you relax even though hot chocolate has not been part of your bedtime routine so far. That is it about the mental part, and now it is time to proceed on the influence of hot chocolate on the chemistry in our body.

    An image of a hand holding a cup of hot chocolate.

    It increases the secretion of melatonin, a sleep hormone, both because your body associates hot chocolate with sleep, but also at the biochemical level. Chocolate has certain ingredients that stimulate the secretion of melatonin. As it contains large amounts of tryptophan, which is an amino acid necessary for the secretion of serotonin, a monoamine neurotransmitter very important for mood, as well as dopamine, the hormone of happiness.

    Milk that is part of almost every recipe for making hot chocolate also plays an essential role. We have to mention temperature of the beverage too, since hot drinks make us sleepy.

    Why do we feel sleep in the first place?

    Have you ever wondered why we feel sleep in the first place? Sleep is one of the basic functions of our body and something we cannot live without, similar to food, water and air. That is why it is normal to feel the need to sleep every day. Circadian rhythm is actually our inner clock that controls the 24-hour sleep and wake cycle. The body and mind ask us to sleep so that we can renew our energy, memorize what you have learned, cleanse the body of toxins and do many other essential things. This is the simplest answer to the question why do we feel sleep in the first place.

    An image of a couple in the second phase of sleep.

    However, there are also disorders that cause excessive sleepiness. Some of these disorders are microsleep, sleep inertia, DSPS, hypersomnia and sleep drunkenness. If you are still tired after 8 hours of sleep, one of those disorders may be the underlying cause. There is no cure for most of these disorders, but there are ways to significantly reduce the symptoms. Sleep debt is another reason for excessive sleepiness, and you can get rid of accumulated fatigue with enough rest.

    Will sugar from chocolate kick in and prevent me from sleeping?

    You can find chocolates that contain more than 80% cocoa and such chocolates have a very small amount of sugar. But every hot chocolate has significantly more sugar because chocolates with a lower percentage of cocoa are usually used, sugar is added and milk also contains sugar. This will probably make you wonder if it can cause a counter-effect and give you an energy boost instead of calming you down.

    An image of a young man feeling confused upon awakening.

    This is certainly a real concern because it can happen that hot chocolate keeps you awake if you put in too much sugar. Fortunately, you can make this perfectly tasty drink with a significantly lower amount of sugar, so you will avoid the problem of spike in energy, and you will also make hot chocolate healthier.

    There are several ways to do this. The first way is of course to put as little extra sugar as possible. Same applies to additives like marshmallows and cream you should completely avoid since it is sweet enough. Then, use chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa or pure cocoa powder. Also, avoid drinking hot chocolate just before going to bed.

    Drink it an hour or two earlier, so that your body has enough time to process the sugar. If you like hot chocolate to be very sweet, then consume it once or twice a week, not more often, both for the sake of sleep and overall health.

    Is there an alternative to hot chocolate before bed?

    Yes, there are alternatives to hot chocolate before bed. But we have to warn you! No alternative is nearly as delicious as hot chocolate. Nonetheless these alternatives can be equally or even more effective to aid sleep.

    An image of a woman taking a melatonin pill with glass of milk.

    The most effective sleep supplement is melatonin. We have already mentioned the role of melatonin and how the body secretes it naturally. Melatonin supplementation can certainly help you feel asleep faster and on time. Warm milk with vanilla and cinnamon can give similar results as hot chocolate. Valerian is the plant that is the most effective natural sleep remedy. Some find chamomile , turmeric and rooibos tea useful as well. If you are a bit old fashioned, try mulled hot cider, but if you plan to consume it often, our advice is to choose non-alcoholic cider.

    What do I get from hot chocolate if I drink it before bedtime?

    We guess you want to find out if drinking hot chocolate before bedtime has some other benefits besides helping you fall asleep easier. We have great news. Hot chocolate typically will do a few more very beneficial things for you, while enjoying the taste. It is important to remember that you get all these benefits if you prepare hot chocolate yourself and use quality ingredients. If you opt for hot chocolate powder you will ingest preservatives and additives, and you can forget practically everything we have listed as benefits.

    You will drink sweet, warm beverage, which can sometimes help you sleep, but in general you should avoid them. Buy unsweetened cocoa powder, low fat milk or even almond milk / coconut milk, dark chocolate and brown sugar and the results will be perfect.

    Mood boost

    It’s no secret that you sleep much better when you are in a good mood than when you are depressed. Low mood can cause insomnia even if you feel very tired. Hot chocolate will not solve all your problems, but it will certainly make you feel better. If the low mood period lasts a long time, then you should consult a doctor because there may be a medical condition that needs to be treated, such as central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea or thyroid problem.

    An image of a happy young man due to healthy sleep hygiene.

    Removing stress

    Everyday life is filled with stressful events. These are not always very stressful events, but they are constant. So a traffic jam or something like that can completely ruin our day. Anxiety worsens in the evening, making the stress even more pronounced. As with mood boost, hot chocolate can help you reduce stress, calm down central nervous system and fall asleep without nighttime worrying.

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    Rich in antioxidants (only dark chocolate)

    We are constantly exposed to pollution. Free radicals are all around us, and these unstable molecules can cause chain chemical reactions in the body which leads to various health problems. Antioxidants are very important for protection and recovery of our cells after exposure of our body to harmful effects of free radicals. Dark chocolate is very rich in antioxidants, so we recommend that you choose dark chocolate that contains 70 or more percent cocoa – the more the merrier.

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    Antibiotics have been used for almost 100 years and have reduced the number of deaths caused by bacteria many times over. As bacteria are the most common cause of sinusitis, then antibiotics are usually the best solution. But antibiotics are not OTC and you need to get a prescription from a doctor to buy them and start using them. Although very effective, they usually take a few days so don’t worry if you don’t feel better after a few hours. Be patient and use symptomatic therapy until antibiotics cure you.

    Are there any downsides of drinking hot chocolate before bedtime?

    Yes, there are few downsides of drinking chocolate before bedtime. It probably won’t ruin your night’s sleep completely, but it can cause you some problems for the first hour or two after you go to bed. If you have a problem with excessive secretion of gastric acid, for example, be careful.

    Caffeine

    Cocoa certainly does not contain the same amount of caffeine as coffee or green tea, but a larger amount of hot chocolate can act as a stimulant. The amount of caffeine in hot chocolate is up to 10 times smaller compared to coffee, but there are people who are very sensitive to caffeine and even a small amount can disrupt their night’s sleep. Coffee and energy drinks should be avoided after 3 PM and limit your daily intake, otherwise you may be tired but will not be able to fall asleep.

    An image of a sleepy woman holding a cup of coffee.

    Theobromine

    We have considered whether we should mention theobromine in this part of the text. We were reluctant to classify theobromine in the same part as caffeine, because theobromine also has positive effects. Theobromine is a muscle relaxant and that’s a plus. But this alkaloid also has one downside. The body can react to it similarly like when you consume caffeine, although there are no studies that have proven the role of theobromine as a stimulant.

    An image of a relaxed woman in bed.

    Sugar

    We’ve already talked about how sugar can give you an unwanted energy kick that affect sleep. That’s not the only way sugar can cause problem. If you suffer from diabetes, then you should absolutely avoid consuming sugar in the evening, which includes hot chocolate. Healthy people should avoid excessive stimulation of the pancreas too.

    An image of sugar in a wooden bowl.

    Conclusion - will chocolate help me sleep better?

    Achieving deep sleep is of the greatest importance for our overall good health. We try to have a good night’s sleep in different ways. The lucky ones just go to bed, fall asleep quickly and sleep for 8 hours. Many others need something to help them fall asleep. Implementing a bedtime routine into your schedule can help significantly. A bedtime routine can be anything, such as reading a book, drinking warm milk or hot chocolate.

    An image of a bearded man in the first stage of sleep.

    Hot cocoa is something that everyone adores since early childhood. What many do not know is that it has many health benefits and should therefore be consumed. By using premium ingredients, you will be sure that hot cocoa will be beneficial, and that you will avoid various additives that are added to ready-made products such as milk chocolate. Too much sugar is also harmful, so try not to add sugar at all or add very small amount.

    An image of a cup of hot chocolate.

    When you make high quality hot chocolate from low fat milk, unsweetened cocoa, dark chocolate, vanilla extract and cinnamon, all you have to do is to enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage before you doze off.

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