Sugar Might Not be the Only Villain Stealing Your Kid’s Sleep !

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I love the costumes, the focus on fun and terror in equal measure, and particularly the candy.  It could be hard to get a child to settle down after a night of going door to door, collecting treats.  Some parents think that their child’s difficulty falling asleep after eating some of the contents of their trick-or-treat bag is because of sugar.  The research on this has already been done.  With few exceptions for extreme consumption, sugar is not a reliable way to get your kid to go off the rails.

There is a more likely candidate:  caffeine.

Yup, the same drug you drink in the morning to get you going.  


Where is caffeine coming from in a child’s candy?  Chocolate.  Every ounce of milk chocolate has 6 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.  That doubles for dark chocolate.  This may not be a big deal for an adult, even one who is sensitive to the effects of caffeine.  A standard cup of coffee can have as little as 40 milligrams of caffeine.  The problem is not the size of the bars as much as the size of the human.

Kids weigh a fraction of an adult, magnifying the effects of caffeine.  This doesn’t mean that they can’t indulge unless they have a disorder that would severely limit their ability to eat chocolate.  Be mindful that caffeine is a drug, and interacts with other drugs such as Ritalin and Vyvance.  Be smart and ask your child’s prescriber about interactions.  When chocolate is eaten could be important.   If it is consumed too close to taking another drug or too close to bedtime, you could have a really happy and very awake child.

This also happens with hot chocolate and energy drinks, so be smart this holiday season!!


By Cathy Collyer

I am a licensed occupational therapist, licensed massage therapist, and certified CBT-i sleep coach in private practice in the NYC area. I have over 25 years of professional experience in adult and pediatric treatment. It has been a joy to help people of all ages improve their ability to grow and thrive! Occupational therapists are focused on enhancing a client's functioning in everyday life. We are practical healthcare providers, interested in teaching, adapting actions and environments, and building a client's useful skills for living their best life, regardless of their challenges. I am the author of five books, including "Staying In The Room: Managing Medical And Dental Care When You Have DID" and "The Practical Guide To Toilet Training the Autistic Child". I lecture on many subjects, including sleep, trauma, and development. Contact me to learn more about how I can help you achieve YOUR goals!

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