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4 min read

sleep & Easter - does chocolate affect our children's sleep?

written by Simon Anthony

updated 06.04.2023

Easter chocolates - How does chocolate affect sleep?

Our sleep experts say children should stop gorging on chocolate three hours before bedtime to improve the chances of getting a good night’s sleep

  • This Easter, almost half of children in Britain will eat a chocolate egg for breakfast.

  • Over 40% of kids will eat three or more chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday

  • Around a third of parents say chocolate affects the quality of their kids’ sleep

Easter sleep survey

Almost half (44%) of children in Britain will eat a chocolate egg for breakfast this Easter Sunday, new data has revealed. The nationwide survey, from sleep brand Silentnight, found over two in five kids wake up early on the big day to start their morning with a chocolatey treat.

Over the whole weekend, a whopping 98% of kids will eat chocolate eggs, with over two in five (42%) scoffing down three or more on Easter Sunday alone. While the much-loved holiday should be celebrated and enjoyed, parents should also be mindful of potential sleep disruption, as increased sugar intake can have an impact on shut eye.

The study, conducted by our sleep experts revealed that over a third (36%) of parents say chocolate affects the quality of their kids’ sleep. Research conducted by sleep experts internationally has shown that people who have a high sugar content in their diet tend to have a shorter sleep duration and to sleep less deeply. That is because the body produces wake-promoting hormones when digesting sugar - which disrupts sleep.

According to Silentnight’s Sleep Expert, Hannah Shore, children should stop eating chocolate around three hours before bedtime to better promote a good night’s sleep.

“A high sugar diet can affect sleep quality because as the body is digesting the sugar, it can prompt the body to produce extra wake-promoting hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

If we eat too much sugar too close to bedtime, these hormones are produced when we are trying to sleep meaning a reduction in deep, slow wave sleep. 

However, eating small amounts of chocolate releases endorphins and serotonin, making you feel happier, so small amounts may actually be good for our mental health.  Realistically, kids are going to be excited to see that the Easter Bunny has been, so they will eat chocolate this weekend, as they should!

Yes, Easter may disrupt sleep for a day or two, but that’s ok. Try to get your child to stop eating chocolate around three hours before bedtime on Easter Sunday and then get back into their usual routine in the following days.” - Hannah Shore

Hannah's top tips for kids this Easter

  1. Limit sugar consumption. Parents should try to ensure kids don’t eat too many chocolate eggs in one day, to limit the spike in blood sugar and wake-promoting hormones.

  2. Don’t eat sugar too close to bedtime. The general rule of thumb to avoid sugar negatively affecting sleep quality is to avoid consuming it within three hours of going to bed.

  3. Follow a normal bedtime routine. Sticking to your kid’s usual bedtime routine can help prepare the body for sleep and result in a deeper, better-quality sleep. A normal wind-down routine should last at least one hour.

Remember that your child may use more energy than usual over Easter due to seasonal activities such as egg hunts and seeing family and friends, so your little one might cry out for sleep earlier in the evening after crashing.

To read more about kid’s sleep, visit The Sleep Guide for Kids

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