How does hot chocolate help you sleep?
Hot chocolate isn’t exactly a medical solution to poor sleep or sleep problems, but it’s a tasty bedtime ritual. ☕
Considering the soothing qualities of this beverage, does a cup of hot chocolate help you sleep?
Let’s take a look at the benefits of drinking hot chocolate at night and the different ingredients that make you sleepier.
Warms the body
Temperature plays a significant role in the sleep process.
This leads us to the question: does hot chocolate help you sleep at night, particularly through its ability to regulate body temperature?
For the brain to transition into the crucial REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase, your body needs to cool down by a few degrees at night time.
Warming up with a beverage like drinking chocolate before bed can actually aid in this cooling process.
By raising body temperature, blood vessels expand, facilitating heat dissipation and eventually helping the body cool down. 🧊
A warm bedtime drink can initiate this process, making it easier for the body to cool down later.
Hot chocolate contains two ingredients: cocoa powder and warm milk.
In the context of its ingredients, it's pertinent to ask: does hot chocolate milk help you sleep, and how do its components contribute to restfulness?
Both milk and coca powder are rich sources of tryptophan, an amino acid known for its sleep-promoting properties.
It plays a crucial role in producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and mood.
Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles.
The presence of tryptophan in cacao might contribute to the creation of serotonin and melatonin, potentially aiding in falling asleep more quickly.
Helps ease stress
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter promoted by tryptophan, has a dual role in sleep.
It helps regulate sleep-wake cycles and contributes to feelings of happiness and relaxation. 🧘
Drinking a cup of hot chocolate can trigger a surge in serotonin levels for some individuals, especially those who associate positive emotions with the drink.
This increase in serotonin can create a sense of contentment and relaxation, facilitating a smoother transition into sleep and potentially leading to a more restful night.
So, chocolate does have some health benefits! 😍
Dark chocolate, a common ingredient in hot chocolate, contains magnesium, an essential nutrient that might have sleep-related benefits.
Magnesium aids the body in coping with and adjusting to the circadian rhythm, our internal body clock that governs various physiological functions, including sleep.
This nutrient is found not only in dark chocolate but also in foods like leafy greens and nuts.
Try to find dark hot chocolate instead of milk chocolate to reap the benefits of magnesium. 🍫
It smells good
The power of scent should not be underestimated when it comes to sleep.
The comforting aroma of hot chocolate can evoke positive feelings and memories, potentially promoting relaxation.
Our olfactory sense is closely tied to emotional responses, and if someone associates the smell of hot chocolate with comfort, it can trigger feelings of relaxation and sleepiness.
This effect could be particularly pronounced for individuals with positive memories of the hot drink.
Which other drinks can help you sleep?
Hot chocolate isn’t the only drink you can incorporate into your bedtime routine.
You could also try these warm drinks.
An array of herbal teas, from chamomile to lavender, offer soothing flavours and aromas that help prepare your body for sleep. 🌿
After all, we’ve already discussed the benefits of calming aromas before bed.
Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that may promote sleepiness by binding to certain receptors in the brain.
This interaction can help inhibit anxiety and reduce nervous system activity, leading to a more tranquil transition into sleep.
With its delicate floral notes, lavender tea can evoke a sense of calm.
Its aromatic properties have been associated with relaxation and improved sleep quality.
The smell of lavender can be soothing if you’re having a bad mental health day.
Enjoy a nice cup of lavender tea, breathe in the aroma, and feel calm.
Valerian root, often brewed into tea, is renowned for its potential sedative effects.
This herbal remedy has been used for centuries to alleviate anxiety and promote sleep.
Valerian contains compounds that interact with GABA receptors in the brain, contributing to calmness and relaxation.
While its earthy taste might not be as immediately inviting as other beverages, valerian tea could be a potent ally for those with sleep disorders.
As you wind down, consider trying a new herbal tea to guide you gently into a restful night's sleep.
With its rich malt flavour, Ovaltine offers a softer alternative to hot chocolate.
With lower sugar content than hot chocolate mixes, Ovaltine provides a touch of sweetness without the risk of dramatic blood sugar spikes.
The warm liquid and its soothing taste make for a delightful prelude to bedtime.
For generations, warm milk has been a time-honoured remedy for soothing restlessness and promoting sleep.
The science behind this tradition lies in the amino acid tryptophan, as we discussed earlier.
A comforting glass of warm milk can deliver a dose of tryptophan, potentially aiding the body's natural sleep processes.
If you’re dairy-free, almond milk also contains tryptophan for the same effect.
Besides, milk also includes plenty of calcium to keep your immune system and bones strong. 🥛
The ritualistic act of sipping warm milk serves as a calming bedtime routine, signalling to your body that it's time to wind down.
Honey and lemon tea
The combination of honey and lemon in a soothing cup of herbal tea can offer a double dose of sleep-inducing benefits.
Honey contains glucose, which can gently elevate insulin levels and promote the entry of tryptophan into the brain.
This helps the production of sleep-regulating neurotransmitters.
Lemon adds a refreshing twist while potentially contributing to relaxation.
The aromatic blend of flavours and the tea preparation ritual create a serene pre-sleep experience.