Can chocolate disrupt sleep?

A couple of weeks ago I was treated to a evening of chocolate tasting at Paul A Young’s beautiful chocolaterie in Islington, London. Paul was so passionate about his hand-made – and delicious – chocolates and I learnt a lot – about cocoa beans, and chocolate production and the wonderful flavours and textures of different chocolate varieties – and that chocolate can disturb sleep. Really?!

I’d previously heard a rumour that chocolate contains caffeine; well-known for keeping you up at night. However, I was reliably informed by Paul that, contrary to what we are led to believe, chocolate actually contains only very small quantities of caffeine. But – sadly there’s a but! – according to Paul, chocolate also contains a stimulant called theobromine, which can cause sleeplessness if eaten in large enough quantities. It is also the compound that makes chocolate dangerous to our furry friends, dogs and cats.

The essential point then, is that stuffing your face with chocolate at night could potentially keep you awake or interfere with your sleep. Much better to stick to a few squares – and I cannot recommend Paul’s malty 40% milk chocolate enough. Just remember to keep it well away from your pooch and kitty.

Read about Paul A Young, his chocolate shops and chocolate tasting workshops on his website:


  1. liyssmg says:

    But what about a hot chocolate before bed?? I thought that was the perfect pre-bedtime drink??

  2. Hello….good question! I’m not an expert on this but I suppose it depends on how you make your hot chocolate – whether you use warmed milk or hot water, and the quantity and type of chocolate / cocoa powder you use.

    A warm milky drink is an ideal choice at bedtime – it’s warming, soothing and the milk contains tryptophan which has a calming and sedative effect on the body, helping to promote restful sleep. The chocolate part could be a problem for some though – if the type of chocolate or cocoa powder you use contains high levels of theobromine or if you use a lot of it, for example. Additionally, some hot chocolate / cocoa powders contain high amounts of sugar, which can create uneven blood sugar levels and disrupt your sleep.

    My favourite bedtime drink is warmed milk with a drizzle of honey – it’s delicious and is a good alternative if you’re worried about the effects of chocolate at bedtime.

    Sweet dreams!

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