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World Chocolate Day takes place on July 7th, the alleged day that chocolate was first introduced to Europe in 1550. The arrival of world chocolate day got us thinking about the much-loved midnight feast. Staying up late and eating various sweet treats with friends at sleepovers is a fond childhood memory for many of us, but what kind of effect does it actually have on sleep?
It is not just children who are having midnight feasts. Many adults tend to have a late-night snack after having an early dinner, which can sometimes make hunger set in just before bedtime. But what are the effects of eating late at night? Whilst there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with a tasty snack before bed, there are some which may be counterproductive to sleep and, as we know; sleep is the key to a healthy and happy life.
You’ve probably heard before that eating late at night can have adverse effects on health. It is thought that as you don’t have the rest of the day to burn the energy, the calories are stored. Caffeine is a big no no when it comes to getting to sleep for obvious reasons, but did you know that we don’t only find caffeine in coffee and tea? It is also prevalent in chocolate.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that the effects of caffeine can cause problems falling asleep as much as 10-12 hours later in some people. Sugary, heavy foods which fill children up can also cause disruption to sleep as they make them feel too full and therefore uncomfortable. Fatty foods have a similar effect and can cause an upset stomach. In addition to the effects a midnight snack can have on sleep, it can also have an impact on health. Eating calorie-dense foods late at night has been linked to higher cholesterol levels and obesity.
So, what snacks are best for late night consumption? We can’t completely ditch the late night and midnight snacks, so we took a look at some of the better options for when you’re feeling peckish on an evening. Fresh fruit such as strawberries can be a really nutritious snack to have before bed. Whilst fruit and vegetables may not be the most appealing midnight feast to a child there are some other low-calorie options which they can choose from. For example, air-popped popcorn is a light snack which is fun and appealing at the same time.
Sleep is one of the most important health aspects for children, it is when they do essential growing and developing so it is super important that they are getting the best night’s sleep they can. Anything we can do to help support the sleeping habits of children is important, so knowing what snacks are best for them at bedtime is useful to know; it can help them get a good night’s sleep and support their nutrition. Sleepovers are fun experiences for children, midnight feasts being a pretty big part of that, so whilst you can do everything you can to encourage healthy snacking, don’t worry too much if they have a little sweet treat with their friends, as long as it’s not a nightly occurrence.