Ever find yourself eating a piece (or several) of your favorite chocolate and then feeling a little tired afterwards? Well, you're not imagining it — if chocolate makes you sleepy, there's a reason for it.
So if you can't seem to get your snack on without crashing, here are three reasons why chocolate can make you sleepy and what to do about it.
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1. It Can Lead to a Sugar Crash
So, why does chocolate make you sleepy, exactly? Sugar may have something to do with it.
Chocolate — particularly milk and white — is packed with sugar. And eating sugar causes your blood sugar levels to spike, which can temporarily raise your energy levels and also make the body produce insulin, per the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).
When this happens, your body may overcompensate for the extra sugar by rapidly dropping your blood glucose levels — aptly named a sugar crash — which can lead to a decrease in energy and feelings of sleepiness.
According to Sanford Health, other symptoms of a sugar crash include:
- Difficulty concentrating
Fix it: To avoid sugar crashes, eat a nutritious diet and balance out sugary snacks by pairing them with foods that are high in fiber, fat and protein, according to Sanford Health.
If you're in the midst of a sugar crash, chow down on a protein-rich snack (like nuts or protein bars) to help stabilize your blood sugars.
Anyone can experience fatigue after eating too much sugar, but if you have additional symptoms like confusion, abnormal behavior or blurred vision, then it could indicate a more serious condition like diabetes, per Sanford Health.
2. It's High in Fat
Here's another reason why chocolate makes you tired: It's high in fat.
Most commercial chocolate — particularly milk chocolate — is highly processed and contain a solid dose of saturated fat, per the Cleveland Clinic. And it takes a while for your body to digest fatty foods, which can make you feel sluggish, according to URMC.
What's more, according to a February 2020 study in Nutrients, high-fat diets have been associated with daytime sleepiness, feelings of fatigue, poor sleep quality and sleep apnea, all of which may contribute to additional drowsiness.
Fix it: Eating chocolate in moderation (which is a 1-ounce portion, per the Cleveland Clinic), may help you avoid taking in too much saturated fat.
If chocolate makes you sleepy, the type of sweet you're eating may also have something to do with it. Plain dark chocolate without any fillings that contains 70 to 80 percent cocoa has the least amount of fat, per the Cleveland Clinic.
3. It's High in Magnesium
Still, dark chocolate does have the potential to make you sleepy due to its high magnesium content.
Just 1 ounce of dark chocolate that is 70 to 80 percent cocoa contains 64 milligrams of magnesium, per the Cleveland Clinic.
And this magnesium in chocolate can make you tired. Indeed, a February 2019 study in Cureus found that dark chocolate may help induce sleep because of the magnesium it contains.
Fix it: Stick to a 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate with a high cocoa content to avoid feeling sleepy.
Why Does Hot Chocolate Make You Sleepy?
Warm beverages in general can make some people feel sleepy before bed. But, hot chocolate specifically will potentially make you sleepy for the reasons outlined above: It too can lead to a sugar crash and can contain high enough doses of fat or magnesium (depending on the type of chocolate you're sipping) to make you drowsy.
- URMC: "Overcoming Your Midafternoon Energy Slump"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Heart Healthy Benefits of Chocolate"
- Nutrients: "Nutritional Status as a Mediator of Fatigue and Its Underlying Mechanisms in Older People"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Dark, Milk or White – Which Chocolate Is Best for Your Heart?"
- Sanford Health: : "Sugar crash effects and how to fix them"
- Cleveland Clinic: "7 Foods That Are High in Magnesium"
- Cureus: "Influence of Dietary Intake on Sleeping Patterns of Medical Students"