Dr Michael Mosley on the importance of routine for sleep
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As the delicious treat is made predominantly from chocolate, it’s no surprise that it’s packed with sugar and calories. In fact, chocolate eggs can contain more than 2,000 calories, which exceeds recommended daily intake for your young ones. However, one ingredient hidden away in the snack might come as a surprise – caffeine.
Health expert Lujain Alhassan has advised parents to keep an eye on the portion size and frequency of treating their children to Easter chocolates.
She recommended serving smaller chocolate eggs, less frequently, to avoid sleep problems.
Alhassan said: “It’s important to be mindful of the child’s overall diet and any other sources of sugar they may be consuming.
“Some chocolate contains caffeine and so eating too much of it can cause sleeping difficulties in children in a way it might not do for us adults.”
As a rule of thumb, the more caffeine you consume, the more hampered your sleep can be.
However, enjoying your daily cup of coffee is an obvious caffeine fix, while chocolate might not be.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, different types of chocolate pack different amounts of caffeine:
- Dark chocolate contains about 12 milligrams of caffeine per 28 grams
- Milk chocolate contains around nine milligrams of caffeine per 43 grams
- White chocolate contains zero caffeine.
The reason why the delicious treat contains coffee is because of cocoa solids.
These dry components are produced once cocoa beans get liquified.
Why does caffeine affect sleep?
The Sleep Foundation explained that it all comes down to adenosine receptors.
They penned: “Adenosine is a sleep-promoting chemical that is produced in the brain during our waking hours.
“Normally, adenosine builds up in the brain the longer we’re awake. The more it builds up, the sleepier we become.
“Inside the brain, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors. When caffeine blocks this process, we remain alert and vigilant.”
When it comes to the recommended cut-off time, ideally you would stash caffeine away six hours before bedtime.
For example, if you go to bed at 10pm, avoiding the substance after 4pm could minimise sleep problems.
However, the sleep portal doesn’t specify if this is different for children.
Alhassan added: “Try to only buy as much chocolate as you need, or as much as you want to eat, to avoid overindulging on empty calories.
“Moderation is key, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying these treats.
“There’s no harm in doing so as long as we generally follow a balanced diet and get the right amount of nutrients and goodness our bodies need.”
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