Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sweet Dreams

About a week ago, I read that honey is a common sleep remedy (or at least a component of sleep remedies) in a number of cultures. Some people, like retired pharmacist Mike McInness, author of The Hibernation Diet and The Honey Diet1, claim that honey causes the liver to create/store (I don't know, I keep using the wrong word and my husband very annoyingly corrects me every time) glycogen, which fuels the brain at night. I have no clue if this is true because I haven't read enough (or any) of the science behind these claims, but I figure if grandmas around the world have been using it for thousands of years, there might be something to it.

Being a rotten sleeper, I gave it a try. I took a tablespoon of raw honey2 before bed. Ugh. That much honey straight up and all at once bothered my stomach a little, but it completely knocked me out for the night. The next morning, I hit the snooze button and woke up an hour and a half later. I couldn't even get out of bed because I had that drowsy, groggy feeling I get after taking Benadryl. (BTW, I had a fleeting suspicion all that sugar might have induced some sort of diabetic coma, but I was wrong. Eventually, I fell out of bed.)

The next night, I tried a tablespoon of honey in some herbal tea about 45 minutes before bedtime. Again, I zonked out, but had to wake up in the middle of the night for the toilet. On the other hand, I fell straight to sleep again until morning. (Sorry if that was TMI.) Again, lots of issues waking up in the morning, too.

Since then, I've been experimenting with different amounts of honey and different delivery vehicles, like whole-wheat toast, cheese, fruit... but no liquids! A few times, I forgot to take any honey at all, and I was super restless those nights. Also, it seems if I had too little honey, I would sleep really well for a few hours, but then I'd be up again in the middle of the night.

My sweet spot (har, har) seems to be about 2 teaspoons -- enough to put me down for the count, but not enough that I can't yank myself out of bed in the morning.

My husband, the skeptical doctor, thinks I'm simply experiencing a placebo effect, but I've taken things like melatonin in the past, and they've had zero effect. So I wonder if any of you would be willing to try taking some honey before bedtime and share your results (if any). Just think of it as a contribution to science! :-)

1I haven't actually read either of these books, so I can't recommend them. If you've read them, though, please, let me know what you think!

2 I want to be clear that I used 100% raw honey. I don't know if it matters that it was raw. However, the stuff one finds in plastic bears the supermarkets isn't real honey, so if you use that, I doubt it will work.


  1. Well, it's worth a try. I've got terrible sleep patterns. Lately, I've been going to bed later and later so I won't wake up so early. If I could sleep straight through from about 11:30 to 6:30, I would be happy. (Seven hours instead of five or six)

    1. I'm glad to hear you're willing to try it. Did it help?

  2. Alright, Julie - now you've got my attention! I tend to take Advil PM a couple of times a week, but don't like the idea of taking Ibuprophen when I don't need it. I'm going to give this a try - will keep you posted! Sue

    1. After I started taking honey at night, I noticed that I frequently had very vivid dreams. Then I received a copy of Honey Revolution by a Fessenden for my birthday. He said that vivid dreams are a common "side effect" of taking honey at night. He chalks the dreams up to more REM sleep. Anyway, he recommends 1-2 Tbsp honey before bedtime (about 45 mins prior, I think). He says the honey should be taken alone (i.e., not with solid food) because he says the body would have to do a lot of work to digest it. He actually recommends 3-5 Tbsp during the course of a day (1-2 of these at night before bed, 1 in the morning, and the rest throughout). Anyway, let me know how it goes. I'm very curious to hear if anyone else notices a difference.


Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to hear what you think!