Chocolate Makes Me Sleepy • Why & What You Can Do •

*Yawns loudly* Can you guess what I’ve just eaten? Yes, that’s right. I’ve enjoyed a nice helping of chocolate, and now I feel a bit sleepy. There’s no time to take a nap, though. I’ve got to write this article about why chocolate can make you feel sleepy! Chances are, you experience this feeling of sleepiness too. So don’t drift off to sleep just yet! Here is all you are going to want to know.

So, why does chocolate make me sleepy? Chocolate can make you feel sleepy in response to a sugar rush and subsequent crash – put simply, swings in blood sugar levels. Sleepiness from chocolate can also be caused due the consumption of high levels of fat, which requires energy to digest, or the mineral magnesium, which is abundant in some types of chocolate. 

A lot will depend on what type of chocolate you eat, how much, and when.

Are you feeling sleepy immediately after or in the hours that follow?

Does it only happen when you eat certain brands of chocolate, even?

These are just some questions to consider.

So with these in mind, let’s delve into the reasons in greater detail so you can better put your finger on which one it could be.

Then, I’ll be sharing with you some tips and strategies to prevent this sleepiness from happening again. And don’t worry, it doesn’t involve giving up chocolate! 

Why Does Chocolate Make You Sleepy?

Chocolate can make you sleepy as a result of a sugar crash, its high-fat content, or its high magnesium content.

So, there are 3 main ways chocolate makes you sleepy. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at them, starting with…

Sugar Crash

I’m sure you’ve heard the term before. You’ve probably experienced a sugar crash as well. 

You get that initial short burst of energy after eating lots of sugary chocolate, only to crash into deep feelings of drowsiness and fatigue.

But why (and how) does the sugar rush occur when you eat chocolate?

Well, when you eat chocolate and consequently ingest and digest its high sugar content, your body’s blood sugar levels increase drastically. 

Your body is essentially putting to use all of that sugar.

This will increase your energy levels, but it will also make your body produce insulin.

To compensate for the raised sugar levels, your body has to drop your glucose levels. 

This is what causes the sugar crash. A significant decrease in energy levels and a tremendous increase in sleepiness.

Other symptoms of a sugar crash include headaches, dizziness, hunger, and irritability.

So a sugar crash is the first-way chocolate can make you feel sleepy.

Do note that this can happen to anyone, so long as they eat enough chocolate in one sitting.

However, if you experience other symptoms like blurred vision or confusion, then you must make an appointment with a healthcare professional. 

These additional symptoms could be an indication of something more severe like diabetes.

High-Fat Content

A lot of chocolate has a high-fat content, just like it has high sugar. Not only do they contain fat, but they contain saturated fat, especially in milk chocolate. 

‘Ok. Cool. I’m well aware that chocolate has a high-fat content. But why does it make me feel sleepy?’

High-fat content makes you feel sleepy because fats take much longer to be digested. 

Even though we ourselves don’t consciously digest food, our bodies do. And it can be quite an arduous task, particularly if the food is harder to digest.

Fat takes a long time to digest, which means your body has to spend more energy getting the job done.

This, in turn, will deplete your energy levels which will make you feel sleepy.

Studies like this one show that overconsumption of fats can lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and poor sleep. 

High Magnesium Content

The third and final main cause of sleepiness after eating chocolate is its high magnesium content.

Studies have shown that this mineral, along with serotonin which is found in dark chocolate, floods your brain with neurotransmitters that will make you feel sleepy.

Will All Chocolate Make You Sleepy?

Not all chocolate will make you feel sleepy. It ultimately depends on the sugar/fat/cocoa content along with the magnesium density it has. Generally, the higher the sugar/fat/cocoa/magnesium content, the higher the chances it will make you feel sleepy following consumption.

Milk chocolate and white chocolate are commonly high in at least 2 of either sugar, fat, or magnesium. They’re often high in all 3.

Chocolates only need to be high in one for you to feel sleepy after eating them.

So any chocolate that you eat that contains high amounts of these ingredients and 

compounds will cause you to feel sleepy.

But what about dark chocolate? That’s supposed to be healthier?

Yes, dark chocolate is typically healthier than the other two types of chocolate. But it still can make you feel incredibly sleepy…more so than other types of chocolate. 

This is the case even though dark chocolate contains caffeine. 

The problem is that dark chocolate contains serotonin. Plenty of it as well. You may remember I briefly mentioned serotonin earlier.  

Serotonin can make you feel sleepy.

Milk chocolate doesn’t contain serotonin. It contains lots of sugar, fat, and caffeine. So when you eat it, you get that big buzz, then an eventual crash if you eat too much.

Dark chocolate, on the other hand, contains lots of serotonin. So it doesn’t actually give you that buzz that milk chocolate does. Instead, it will make you feel sleepy straight away.

So best not to use it as a pre-workout snack.

At least with milk chocolate, you get that initial sugar rush and an increase in energy levels. 

With dark chocolate, that’s just not the case.

Does Chocolate Make You Sleep Well?

Some chocolate can actually improve your sleep quality because it contains certain beneficial compounds and ingredients.

There are various compounds and ingredients out there that will help improve your sleep.

Many of these can be found in some chocolates.

Theobromine, for example, is reported to improve sleep quality.

Tryptophan stimulates serotonin, which, as we know from earlier, helps improve sleep.

Now earlier, I mentioned that magnesium was one of the causes of sleepiness after eating chocolate. 

In fact, research has shown that magnesium can improve sleep quality. 

Dark Chocolate & Sleep

Dark chocolate perhaps interacts with our sleep more than any other chocolate. 

Experts suggest you eat dark chocolate before you go to bed. Whilst it does contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that can keep you awake, it also contains tryptophan which I mentioned briefly earlier. 

Tryptophan is excellent. It helps with depression, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions as well.

But it also aids our sleep.

You see, tryptophan is a very important amino acid that we need to create serotonin. 

Serotonin, for those who don’t know, is a hormone. 

It’s useful for many things, including regulating our sleep cycles and relaxing us before bed. 

Dark chocolate is full of tryptophan which means it can provide our body with the serotonin it needs to aid our sleep and make us feel relaxed.

Now I know you’ll be wondering how this works when dark chocolate contains other ingredients that aren’t good for sleep, like caffeine. 

What I would advise you to do is to start off by eating a little bit of dark chocolate before bed one night and see what happens.

How To Stop Getting Sleepy After Eating Chocolate 

You can stop getting sleepy after eating chocolate with short-term preventative solutions and long-term preventative solutions.

Short-term Solutions

Let’s start here, in case you’re in a sleepiness emergency right now after eating too much chocolate.

  • Eat Some Dark Chocolate – It’s a natural stimulant that can perk you up with its caffeine content.
  • Ginger Tea – Drink ginger tea as it possesses stimulating properties.
  • Eat protein – A quick and easy protein bar will sort you right out.
  • Breathing Exercises – There are loads of cool breathing techniques to learn that can help increase your oxygen levels and, thus, your energy levels as well.
  • Exercise – Get the blood flowing again!
  • Fresh Air – It will do you some good, and so will the vitamin D.
  • Power Nap – if all else fails and you’ve got the time, take a power nap. Don’t overdo it, though. You do want to sleep tonight, don’t you?
  • Hydrate – Drinking water will help boost your energy levels and combat fatigue caused by dehydration.

Long-term Solutions

Now let’s talk about what you can do to stop the chocolate from making you feel sleepy in the future.

  • Adapt your diet – Eat plenty of foods that are rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats whilst avoiding those that are likely to cause sleepiness. 
  • Reduce Sugar Intake – The more sugar in your system, the bigger the crash!
  • Moderation – Don’t overindulge. The more chocolate you eat, the more sleepy you’ll get and the harder you’ll crash.
  • Change Chocolate – Sadly, your favorite chocolate bar might be what is making you sleepy. So pick another one that is lower in sugar, fats, and magnesium. That way, you’ll feel less sleepy after eating it.

Finally

If you want to fall asleep, then you can ignore all of this and eat all the chocolate you want. 

It will soon make you sleepy once you’ve crashed.

Although, I wouldn’t advise you to do this. It’s not the healthiest way to feel relaxed and sleepy before bedtime.

Chocolate will make you sleepy; there’s no doubt about that. But it’s for all the wrong reasons!

Noticed other reactions when eating chocolate? Then my other guides may be of help:

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