Did you know that dark chocolate and sleep are closely related? It's because many people noticed that after indulging in their favorite treat, they had better sleep. But is dark chocolate the reason why?
It could be. Chocolate has been used to maintain health since the 1500s, and after discovering all the nutrients and antioxidants chocolate has, it's no wonder! You can find several nutrients and antioxidants like fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, polyphenols, & flavonoids. Dark chocolate can even reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol, lowering your risk for heart disease and strokes!
But does dark chocolate contain the necessary nutrients for better sleep? Take a look!
Dark chocolate contains magnesium, an essential mineral in many foods like tea leaves, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, and avocadoes. But what makes magnesium such a benefit for your sleep is that it acts as a natural muscle relaxant that helps reduce tension in your body and makes it easier for you to drift off into dreamland.
Magnesium can also combat migraines, reduce inflammation, support nerve and muscle function, deactivate adrenaline, fight acid buildup, kill toxins, and soothe nerves! And the best part is that dark chocolate has more magnesium than most other types of chocolate!
Another nutrient dark chocolate contains that benefits sleep is potassium. This electrolyte regulates your body's fluid balance, which is essential for your heart rate and blood pressure. When you regulate your fluids, you maintain a steady heart rate and even blood pressure, which makes falling asleep easier!
Dark chocolate also contains iron, which helps give energy to your cells so that they can run efficiently. Iron acts as a helping hand to much-needed nutrients and lets them enter your cells easier. When your cells have enough energy, it's easier for them to relax and prepare for the night ahead.
Now the main star in the case of dark chocolate vs. sleep is tryptophan, which is an amino acid. Tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin (the feel-good chemical) in your body, generating more melatonin. The serotonin increases your mood and ability to fend off stress, while the melatonin promotes deep REM sleep, which helps you feel more refreshed in the morning!
But keep in mind that tryptophan doesn't react well to heat, so it's nearly non-existent in cooked chocolate — eat raw chocolate instead!
Cacao vs. Cocoa
Since we're talking about chocolate, it's important to note the difference between cacao and cocoa. Cacao is raw cocoa that undergoes minimal processing and retains all its nutrients like vitamins A, B1, C, E, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus & zinc! It tastes slightly bitter and is dark brown. On the other hand, cocoa refers to roasted cocoa beans that have lost some nutrients during processing.
If you want to increase your sleep benefits, look for dark chocolate containing cacao. It contains magnesium to relax the mind and improve blood flow; phenethylamine (PEA), the "love" chemical; anandamide, the bliss chemical; plus serotonin and tryptophan to reduce symptoms of depression and promote better sleep!
So, can dark chocolate help you sleep? The answer depends on the person and the amount you eat before bed. While dark chocolate offers many health benefits that improve your sleep quality, it can also help you sleep simply because you love the taste, which then relaxes your brain.
While dark chocolate naturally contains caffeine, it generally only has 5 to 20 mg, which is much less than your standard cup of coffee that has 80 to 155 mg per cup. So, it's usually not enough to disturb your sleep. And the other stimulant, theobromine, is gentler for your brain and doesn't affect your nervous system like caffeine does.
Sweet Treats & Sweet Dreams
There you have it — the answer to the question, “will dark chocolate before bed help you sleep better?” But no sweet treats can compensate for an old, beat-up mattress! So, before you do anything else, make sure your mattress is in sleep shape!
And if it's not, don't worry; Crane's Mattress has you covered! Stop by today or give us a call if you have any questions!