Myth or Fact: Hot Chocolate Helps You Sleep

Hot Chocolate DrinkAlong with the traditional warm milk that’s been said to help anybody sleep, hot chocolate comes to the scene, supposedly serving the same purpose. But is it a myth? Is it a fact? Does drinking hot chocolate help you sleep? Well, you’re reading the right article if those questions have been in your mind.  In a few moments, as you read on, you will learn what hot chocolate does by learning what’s in it.


So what’s in hot chocolate, anyway?

Hot chocolate is a concoction of essentially three things mixed into hot water. They are milk, sugar, and chocolate shavings (or commonly and less-expensively cocoa powder). If you’re going to know what a drink does to you, it’s a good start to know what it’s made of in the first place. So that being established, let’s find out how these three ingredients affect you separately.

Chocolate

Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical cacao tree. At its raw state, it’s horribly bitter, but after a process of fermentation, drying, roasting and grinding, the chocolate mass is liquefied and turns into the common chocolate we know. Of course, there’s more after the liquefying stage before it turns into a branded chocolate bar that you buy in stores, but chocolate is chocolate, and I’ll tell you what it does to you. Chocolate contains the compound valeric, acid which is a relaxant. However, it also contains the stimulant called theobromine – a variation of caffeine. Now what do those mean? It means that chocolate has the chemical which makes you sleepy and all relaxed, but it also has the chemical which makes you all giddy and awake. Therefore the two chemicals somehow balance, and there’s an equal chance that you’ll either be too awake, or too sleepy.

Milk

MilkAs you know, the widely consumed kind of milk comes from cows. This particular kind of milk contains a lot of chemicals like calcium, protein, fat, and vitamin c. But the compounds in it that potentially can act as factors in this question of myth or fact are serotonin and melatonin. Like the valeric acid in chocolate, serotonin is also kind of a relaxant. It makes you want to go to bed and have a good night’s rest, but on the other hand, melatonin is also like a stimulant like theobromine in chocolate. Now what does this mean again? Just like the cancelling effect of the two chemicals in chocolate, they both overcome each other to create a fair balance.

Sugar

So you can see that everything pretty much depends on this last ingredient, since the previous two just really is a balance of relaxants and stimulants. So what’s sugar? Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. But what’s a carbohydrate in the first place? Well I’d have to take you through a boring class of biology to fully explain it. But basically, it’s something that gives you energy. Sugar is a simple kind of carbohydrate (glucose). That means that your body quickly absorbs the energy given by the sugar into your bloodstream. This makes you giddy, even hyper, for an amount of time after you take in that sugar, but you feel exhausted right after.

Now what?

Let’s say that there’s a big chance that you’d feel energized after taking a decent amount of sweet, hot chocolate. If you go to bed right after, you probably won’t sleep right away. But in the case that after you poured out all that energy, you’d feel properly exhausted, and if you lie down, don’t be surprised that you’ll be sleeping soon right after. But keep in mind that, since every person is different from another, there’s still room that you might even absorb more relaxant than stimulants into your body, or the other way around, having the consequent effects. But is it a myth that drinking hot chocolate will help you sleep? The answer is — it depends on the person. But, largely and in general, the awake-now-sleepy-later effect of sugar affects most people just as the neutral effect of opposing chemicals won’t do much effect.

Hot chocolate may make you sleepy, and it might make you feel energized. But remember that, no matter how it affects your sleep, it still tastes good. Let none of the possible effects stop you from enjoying a good mug of hot chocolate!

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