According to an extremely suspicious sounding study, eating chocolate for breakfast will make you sleep better. Hmm.
According to an actual study authored by an actual adult, eating chocolate at breakfast will make you sleep better. The standard school of thought is that the stimulants in chocolate (sugar, phenethylamine and theobromine) impacts our ability to sleep. However, this new study suggests that the opposite is true.
The key is timing. As Gary L. Wenk PhD explains in Psychology Today, “your brain pays attention to when, as well as what, you eat. For billions of years, brains have evolved with the firm knowledge that it will have access to food at the beginning of its activity cycle. This link is so ancient and profound that when significant caloric intake is synchronised with becoming active in the morning it exerts beneficial effects on the body’s circadian rhythms that are essential for good health. This explains why so many recent studies have concluded that it is healthier to eat a really big breakfast and a really small dinner.”
The study (officially titled ‘chocolate for breakfast prevents circadian desynchrony in experimental models of jet-lag and shift-work’) examined the effects of the aforesaid pursuits that destabilise our circadian rhythms. The researchers ostensibly applied chocolate to the problem and somehow achieved a result. According to the study, chocolate ingested at the start of the day (about five grams worth), restored the body’s circadian standard, targeting the hands of the body’s biological clock. According to Wenk, “Chocolate contains a complex variety of chemicals that when considered in aggregate exert compound effects throughout the body and brain.”
The lack of sleep is an inherently adult problem. As Dr Wenk notes, “the quality of sleep slowly and progressively worsens as we get older. Scientists have discovered that sleep quality is the first brain function that decays with normal ageing. We all slept our best at puberty; our sleep quality has been decaying ever since. Furthermore, our modern society, with its constant activity schedule, leads to disrupted daily sleep-activity rhythms. Not sleeping well at night leads to impaired cognitive performance during the day. Shift-workers, and frequent air travellers who suffer from jet-lag, usually exhibit the greatest disruptions to their sleep-wake schedules. Altered circadian rhythms increase the risk of obesity, metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disorders and cancer.”
Cancer? Hail chocolate, the lesser of many evils.