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Sleep Hygiene Tip of the Week || Not all birthday cakes are equal

“Schokoladentorte Buttercreme Tulpen dritter Geburtstag,”
by Puschinka, 2009. CC-BY-SA-3.0

So it’s your birthday and you go out and indulge in a fabulous dinner, then come home to your favorite treat: chocolate birthday cake. Feel free to have as much cake as you like… it is your birthday, after all! But if you can’t sleep later, keep in mind that chocolate cake is a source of theobromine.

What the heck is theobromine?

You’ve heard from others that you should hide all chocolate from dogs because it could kill them, right? Well… theobromine is the ingredient in chocolate that’s hazardous to dogs.

No, chocolate won’t kill you! Dogs don’t have the ability to metabolize theobromine, which is why they need to avoid eating it altogether, because it’s fatal to their systems.

Theobromine, found in cocoa and chocolate, is a naturally occurring bitter alkaloid in the cacao plant. It does many things that its cousin, caffeine, also does: it has diuretic properties, functions as a smooth muscle relaxant and as a vasodilator. Most importantly, theobromine can be extremely stimulating to the heart.

What about caffeine? Isn’t there caffeine in chocolate? Only if it’s added; cacao does not naturally produce caffeine. You should know if your chocolate cake has caffeine in it based on its ingredient label.

So what does this mean? It means that, if you are interested in sleeping well on the night of your birthday, you might simply opt for yellow cake or white cake with a frosting made of something other than chocolate, or you might feel your birthday buzz hours after you’ve blown out that last candle.

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