Easter, Chocolate and Sleep
Easter is upon us again, which means...chocolate! So how does a day filled with chocolate and sugar affect you and your family’s sleep?
Easter Chocolate Bliss
The chocolate in Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies contains small traces of ‘Easter magic’. These natural components may gently, and briefly ‘awaken’ us. Easter egg chocolate can contain the following:
• Phenylethylamine – which may stimulate alertness and can slightly increase the heart rate
• Anandamide – which can increase the feeling of happiness for a brief period of time
• Theobromine - produces a combination of feelings of relaxation and stimulation
• Caffeine - 50 grams of chocolate can have 3 to 63 mg of caffeine
• Sugar - significant amounts of sugar can trigger the brain and body into a complex set of reactions that cause both sleepiness and hunger
The Easter chocolate bliss, and the natural effects of Easter chocolate are quite mild for most of us. These compounds in our Easter chocolate occur in such small amounts that the chocolate is unlikely to disrupt our sleep. And, because many of us eat chocolate throughout the year, our brain and body have acclimated to the stimulating effects of chocolate.
Dreams of Giant Chocolate Easter Bunnies
Can you resist eating that big Easter bunny in one sitting?
Many nutrition experts observe that a moderate serving of chocolate is about 50 grams. Dream big, but beware of those huge Easter Bunnies, and large Easter Eggs. Many Easter treats are quite large, bounding in between 100-150 grams of chocolate.
Sweet dreams of a Happy Easter come to those eat carefully. Try eating those big Easter Bunnies in smaller pieces over several meals, or share a super-sized Easter bunny with family and friends.
The Easter Bunny's Chocolate Trivia
A few odd facts that hopped in with the Easter Bunny:
• When we eat chocolate often, our body gets used to the stimulating compounds in the chocolate
• "Addiction to chocolate" may be caused by the experience of the texture and taste, or the habit of eating chocolate, rather than the components in chocolate
• Large amounts of chocolate may make us feel sick, because our pancreas has to work too hard to overcome the extra sugar – not necessarily the chocolate compounds
• Avoiding eating any chocolate (or other foods) at least 2 hours before bed, will improve our ability to get a good night's sleep