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Enjoying a warm mug of hot chocolate may be comforting, but does it really help you sleep? Read on to find out!
does *hot chocolate* help you sleep?

Calling all chocolate lovers: we decided it’s high time to find out the truth about whether or not a cup of hot cocoa before bed can really help you sleep! 
First, let’s set the scene: It’s a chilly evening – perhaps after the summer sunshine has set, or perhaps it’s the bleak mid-winter - and you’re curled up on the sofa with a fluffy blanket and a good book. And, in your hands is a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Its scrummy aroma is filling the air around you… Sounds dreamy, right?  

Hot chocolate is one of those comforting drinks that feels like a warm hug in a mug. But have you ever wondered if it actually helps you sleep better? Let’s find out together. 

the cosy comfort of hot chocolate 

It’s undeniable that a mug of hot chocolate is comforting. There's just something a little bit indulgent about sipping on this sweet, creamy treat that can make the world feel a little bit better. The warmth, the flavour, and the sheer nostalgia of a warm cup of cocoa can all help to contribute to that strived after feeling of relaxation. And when you’re relaxed, it’s naturally much easier to drift off to sleep. But is there more to this bedtime beverage than just its extremely comforting goodness? 

the science of sleep and hot chocolate 

Let’s take a look at all the science-y bits and bobs. Hot chocolate actually contains several ingredients that have the potential to influence your sleep in one way or another. And here they are: 

  1. Milk: If you like your hot chocolate with milk, you’re already winning. Milk contains tryptophan which is an amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin. And as we all know by now, both of these are great when it comes to sleep. That said, the amount of tryptophan in milk is quite small. So, while it may not put you out like a light, it can help you feel a bit drowsier before bed. 
  2. Chocolate: This is where things start to get a bit tricky. Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine. And as caffeine is a stimulant, it has the potential to interfere with sleep or negatively impact sleep quality (1). As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains (2). But, the caffeine content in a typical serving of hot chocolate is usually quite low, especially if you’re a milk chocolate kinda gal or guy. 
  3. Sugar: Sugar is an essential ingredient in hot chocolate. It’s what gives you that sweet, satisfying flavour. But, too much sugar before bed can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This also has the potential to disrupt your sleep. And so, when it comes to before bed cocoa, moderation is key. Yes, absolutely enjoy your lovely steaming mug of hot chocolate, but maybe skip the extra marshmallows or heavy whipped cream before bed – especially if you’re sensitive to sugar. 

the ritual of relaxation 

Aside from the ingredients, drinking hot chocolate can also be a bedtime ritual for many of us. Taking time to prepare and enjoy a warm beverage at the same time each day can become part of a calming pre-bedtime routine. The simple act of slowing down, indulging in the warmth, and savouring each and every delicious sip can help to signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down and preparing for sleep. 

tips for a sleep-friendly hot chocolate 

If you’re hoping to make hot chocolate a part of your bedtime routine, here are a few tips to help you keep it sleep-friendly: 

  1. Use milk (or plant-based milk if you’re vegan): Whether you use regular cow’s milk or a calcium-fortified, plant-based milk like almond or oat milk, you’ll be able to maximise the potential sleep benefits of tryptophan (3). 
  2. Choose low-sugar drinking chocolate: Keeping the sugar content of your hot chocolate low will help you to avoid any potential disruptions to your sleep cycle. If you do have a sweet tooth, it could be worth popping a small amount of natural sweeteners such as honey or golden syrup into your mug to give you that chocolatey sweetness you’re craving. 
  3. Steer clear of dark chocolate: If you’re drinking hot chocolate before bed, stick with milk chocolate or cocoa powder. These have lower amounts of caffeine and can help to keep any stimulating effects to a minimum. 
  4. Add some relaxing extras: If you’re a fan of fancy flavoured hot chocolate, adding a pinch of cinnamon or a drop of vanilla extract into the mix is a great shout. Both of these ingredients are known for their calming properties. What’s more, they can enhance the flavour of your mug of cocoa without the need for extra sugar. 

so, does hot chocolate really help you sleep? 

While hot chocolate isn’t some magical sleep potion, it has the potential to play its own part in your bedtime routine. What with its comforting warmth and the small amounts of tryptophan in milk, hot chocolate can help you feel more relaxed which (as we know) is conducive to a better night’s sleep.  

Our thoughts? Be mindful of sugar and caffeine if you’re enjoying a pre-bed hot choccy. And work it into your broader winding-down before bed routine. 

After some more chocolate related content? These top 10 chocolate facts are sure to have you laughing out loud!
Sweet dreams and happy sipping! Until next time, eve sleep.