When You Eat Chocolate Before Bed, This Is What Happens

Chocolate may be a sweet and tasty treat, but it might not be the best idea to eat it right before going to bed. That's because chocolate contains caffeine, which can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it hard for you to fall and stay asleep at night (via Well+Good).

While chocolate doesn't contain anywhere near the same amount of caffeine as coffee, it can still be enough to make you lose sleep. For example, one medium-sized coffee contains around 192 milligrams of caffeine, whereas dark chocolate contains 80 milligrams of caffeine per 100 grams of chocolate, and milk chocolate contains 20 milligrams of caffeine per 100 grams. "It may be a small fraction of the amount of caffeine in a cup of joe, but it should be flagged especially if you have a tough time falling asleep," Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietician, told Well+Good. "Remember everyone's body is different. Some people can drink espresso right before bed and have a restful night while others can't sleep a wink after polishing off a half a bar of dark chocolate."

How long should you wait to go to bed after eating chocolate?

Between the caffeine and theobromine — an antioxidant that can impact your body similarly to caffeine — present in chocolate, it's best to avoid eating it before bed, especially if you're particularly sensitive to caffeine (Well+Good). That's why it's a good rule of thumb to stop eating chocolate, or any kind of large meal, at least three hours before going to sleep. This may make it easier for your body to rest and digest instead of working to process fat, sugar, caffeine while you're trying to fall asleep.

That being said, there may be an alternative. Unlike milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate contains little-to-no caffeine and is completely free of theobromine, which means that eating it before bed won't keep you up at night (via The New York Times). While it is still recommended that you abstain from eating at least three hours before bed, it is highly unlikely that eating white chocolate will disrupt your sleep cycle.