How to sleep: Avoid kola nuts and chocolate containing caffeine to get to sleep

Getting enough restful sleep is essential for overall health. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation can affect both your physical and mental well-being and increase your risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to Healthline, foods which are notorious for keeping you awake at night include:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, including decaf, though in lower amounts than regular
  • Foods that contain kola nut as an ingredient
  • Green and black teas
  • Energy drinks
  • Foods that contain caffeine or coffee as an ingredient, such as tiramisu.

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Caffeine is a natural psychoactive substance widely used in foods and beverages across the world.

“Caffeine is found in many plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao pods, and kola nuts,” says the Sleep Foundation.

The health site continues: “Caffeine is also synthetically produced and used in medications and energy drinks for its energizing and alertness-promoting effects.

“When we consume caffeinated drinks and foods, our stomachs and small intestines quickly absorb the caffeine.

“After being absorbed, caffeine is efficiently distributed throughout the whole body, and it crosses the blood-brain barrier.”

Research has found that consuming coffee, even many hours before bedtime, can affect sleep.

A small 2013 study in 12 people found that consuming 400 mg of caffeine at bedtime, as well as three and six hours before bed, significantly disrupted sleep.

Interestingly, ingesting 400 mg of caffeine six hours before bed more than doubled the time it took for participants to fall asleep and reduced total sleep time by one hour, compared with a placebo.

Kola nut

The kola nut is a cultural staple in many West African countries, prized for its effects as a central nervous system stimulant.

In the West (the United States and Europe), you are more likely to encounter kola nut extract than the fresh nut itself.

Kola extract is a common food flavouring found in Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and now many popular energy drinks.

Most of the benefits of kola nut are connected to its high caffeine content, which increases energy and reduces hunger but unfortunately is prone to keeping you up at night.


Chocolate is one of the lesser-known sources of caffeine that many people do not consider.

Chocolate is more likely to affect those that are sensitive to caffeine (those with the slow variant of the CYP1A2 gene), but it does also add to your daily intake of this compound and could be the thing that tips you over the edge and interrupts sleep.

Caffeine levels vary by the type of chocolate that you eat.

White chocolate has almost no caffeine, and milk chocolate has a little bit, with dark chocolate being the most caffeinated of the bunch.


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