If you’re looking for a quick jumpstart in the morning—or you’re trying to stay alert at work in the afternoon—it’s only natural to reach for a hot cup of coffee or tea. Although this ubiquitous brew may be one of the world’s most popular sources of caffeine (a natural compound that helps stimulate the central nervous system), it’s certainly not the only way to get a boost.
In fact, there are several other foods, beverages, and even medications that contain significant amounts of caffeine. Consume them at the wrong time—like before bed—and they could keep you awake at times when you want to catch some sleep. While none of the ones listed below delivers the same caffeine jolt of java (which contains usually 100 to 200 milligrams per eight-ounce serving), each could mean the difference between tossing and turning—or quickly drifting off.
While its very name implies that its totally caffeine free, don’t be misled. Even “decaffeinated” coffee contains at least two and up to 12 milligrams—just enough to keep you from catching your zzz’s.
Caffeine is naturally found in cocoa beans, so most chocolate has at least some of the energy-boosting compound. The amount of caffeine in chocolate varies, depending on the bar’s ingredients (a blend of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, sugar, flavorings, and fillers), but generally, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains. A Hershey’s Special Dark bar, for example, packs 31 milligrams (about same amount as a full can of cola) and a Milky Way Midnight delivers 14 grams.
Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt
If coffee or chocolate flavors are among your favorites, expect your ice cream or frozen yogurt to pack a caffeine punch. Many popular brands with these flavors can contain 30 to 45 milligrams.
Did you know that your cereal could be giving you the extra energy boost that you need in the morning? That’s right! Cereals, such as Quaker Cocoa Blasts and other chocolate-flavored a.m. munchies, can pack up to 11 milligrams of caffeine.
If pudding is your guilty pleasure, you may be surprised to know that it can supply you with up to 10 milligrams of caffeine—especially the chocolate-flavored kind. Therefore, this gooey treat may not be the best snack to have before bed.
On a crisp winter night, hot chocolate seems like the best choice to stay warm, but it also could keep you up late. Normal hot cocoa mix can hold nine milligrams of the energy-filled substance. However, this beverage could be a great choice in the a.m. to mix up your morning coffee routine, as it has only about a tenth as much of the jittery stuff as a cup of coffee.
While these medications help put your cramps and other menstrual troubles at ease, many of the popular brands incorporate caffeine into their products. Midol (Menstrual Maximum Strength Caplets), for example, packs a whopping 60 milligrams. That’s because caffeine is a diuretic (it makes you urinate), so it reduces bloating. But if you’re aching for some relief at night, these types of drugs may rev you up too much.
It’s easy to turn to pain relievers when a headache or migraine strikes, but it may shock you to learn that caffeine is a common additive in most headache drugs. In fact, the stimulant can make up 40 percent of drugs such as Excedrin and Bayer. How come? Research has shown that caffeine can improve how much aspirin and acetaminophen relieve headache pain. But since caffeine is a stimulant, you may want to think again before you take one before you head to bed.