Chocolate is one of the nation’s favourite treats, but could it be more than a nice treat a couple times a week? Could it even have a positive affect on your sleep?
There have been many studies over the years on the affect that chocolate has on your health. Some say the caffeine in chocolate will keep you awake, and others consider the positives of antioxidants from cocoa beans that help to lower your blood pressure. However, some recent studies have considered the positive affect of chocolate on sleep. Particularly, the way it helps to reduce certain stress hormones and better regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles.
Cortisol is one such stress hormone which helps regulate a number of systems such as your blood sugar and metabolism. It is also released as part of your circadian rhythm – how your body decides when you should be sleeping and when you should be awake.
Higher levels of cortisol are related to a number of health problems such as high blood pressure, low mood, and muscle weakness. Levels of this hormone increase the more stressed we are, which is a common problem in our modern day and age. As a result, finding ways to lower cortisol can improve our ability to sleep soundly.
Why Chocolate Works
This is where chocolate becomes a friend, rather than a foe to be avoided in the name of diet. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, has been shown to have a positive affect on cortisol levels and sleep as a result. It has been shown to lower cortisol levels, and help the body to better regulate metabolism and sleep cycles. The last of which has a knock on affect, because if you are sleeping better, this further aids in your body’s regulation of keeping cortisol at healthy levels.
But What About Sugar?
There has been studies that show that refined sugars are a cause of insomnia. This is why dark chocolate over milk or white is suggested if you are most concerned with your sleep habit.
So, consider decreasing your amounts of processed sugar while still getting that sweet fix with dark chocolate instead, and you could be helping both your stress levels and your sleep.