If you’ve just had a rough night’s sleep, you’ll probably be feeling foggy-headed, grumpy and irritable, and wishing you were at home in bed! This happens to all of us, and we often simply press on through with the hopes of ‘catching up’ on sleep the following night.
But just one night’s poor sleep not only affects your energy, concentration and memory; it can also have ‘invisible’ negative effects too, such as an increase in blood pressure1 the next day.
Of course, the best way to address this is to do all you can to have a good night’s sleep in the first place. We recommend having good ‘sleep hygiene’ practices such as a good wind-down routine (try some light stretches and enjoy a herbal cuppa), avoiding bright light late in the evening (turn off that phone!), and of course getting to bed early enough. This is vitally important because we know that long-term poor sleep is linked to various health problems like poor immunity, depression and increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
All that said, if you’re human like us and don’t always practice good ‘sleep hygiene’, then you’re likely just trying to make it through the day after that night of tossing and turning. The good news is that help could be at hand … and it’s likely to be a healthier solution than multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks!
Researchers have found that consuming high-flavonoid chocolate could help counteract the cognitive impairment (meaning the negative effects on memory, learning, thought processes, and so on) that results from a poor night’s sleep1,2,. In other words, it could help you concentrate and get through the day at work! The same study found that high-flavonoid chocolate also counteracted the increase in blood pressure that occurred after poor sleep1 – so it could help protect your heart, too.
You see, the flavonoids in the chocolate / cacao may work by improving blood flow and circulation to the brain, thereby resulting in these short-term cognitive benefits. But cacao flavonoids are also thought to have longer-term protective effects for the brain2, meaning they could help maintain our brain health and memory into old age, too.
So, where do you get high-flavonoid chocolate? Raw cacao or raw chocolate can be particularly high in flavonoids. This is because conventional chocolate is made from roasted cocoa beans, and the roasting process can destroy some of those all-powerful flavonoids. Raw chocolate making doesn’t involve roasting, so the flavonoids are preserved.
And because dark chocolate contains higher amounts of cacao, it therefore contains more flavonoids. In other words, the darker the better.
So next time you’re feeling that sleep-deprived grogginess, try some raw, dark chocolate and see if it helps you get through the day!
- Grassi D et al. Flavanol-rich chocolate acutely improves arterial function and working memory performance counteracting the effects of sleep deprivation in healthy individuals. J Hypertens. 2016 Jul;34(7):1298-308.
- Socci V et al. Enhancing Human Cognition with Cocoa Flavonoids. Front Nutr. 2017 May 16;4:19.