Chocolate: the stuff of nightmares
Chocolate could be aggravating the sleep disorder which causes sufferers to act out violent nightmares, according to scientists in a recent New Scientist report.
The disorder, called rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (RBD), affects around one in 200 people, and is more commonly experienced by men. Those affected are said to thrash about while sleeping and shout as they dream.
Robert Vorona of the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, the study leader, said that the caffeine in chocolate blocks the normal atonia process, which paralyses people during dreams, and the sleeper is more likely to move.
Vorona reports on a case-study in which the sleeping behaviour of one man was directly affected by what he had eaten previously. The man, who lashed out in his sleep during recurrent nightmares, experienced the problems after eating chocolate biscuits, ice cream or syrup.
While the symptoms were found to be a result of a former head injury in a car accident, chocolate appeared to make the problems much worse.