You know that feeling: Waking up at the same time in the middle of the night, mind racing. Tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling praying for sleep to come. Thinking about how many cups of coffee it’ll take to make it through tomorrow, and how will you possibly make it through getting the kids to school AND all those meetings…
Trouble falling and staying asleep are among the most common issues I help people overcome in my practice. Not only is it frustrating, but navigating your day feeling like a zombie isn’t pleasant. I want to share a simple trick you can use at night before bed to help you sleep, and you probably have the main ingredient already on hand!
First off, why is quality sleep so important? Good sleep hygiene is one of the first things I help people address because it’s vital for optimal health. Getting 8 hours of sleep is the cheapest way you can improve your health. Our culture places importance on a go-go 24-7 lifestyle, and we pay the price by dragging ourselves out of bed and chugging coffee to get out the door. What’s the cost?
Here are some effects of poor sleep (source):
- increased disease risk: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes
- increased risk of accidents
- weight gain, difficulty losing wight
- sexual dysfunction
- aging rapidly
- hormone imbalance
Restful sleep not only prevents disease but also improves overall health and wellbeing. It makes you look better, too. Benefits of good sleep include the following:
- memory improvement. Your brain actually detoxes and flushes toxins while you sleep (source).
- reduce inflammation
- healthy weight
- better cortisol levels and improved stress response
- curbs depression
- better skin
- better focus
Insomnia or trouble staying asleep are typically symptoms of something else, and the key to overcoming it is to figure out the underlying cause. Blood sugar issues, high or low cortisol, adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, alcohol use, chronic pain, and poor diet (especially lacking in critical minerals and protein) are all potential causes.
The One Simple Trick You Can Use for Better Sleep
While you’re working to resolve your insomnia triggers, there’s a hack you can use to get your zzzzs. It’s as easy as honey. That’s right– a spoonful of honey before bed can help you sleep. Raw honey before sleep supplies your liver with glycogen and contributes to melatonin production.
While you sleep, your body must maintain stable blood glucose levels. Your liver stores glycogen which is then converted to glucose during sleep for this purpose. If you have trouble with blood sugar regulation or don’t effectively make this conversion, you’ll suffer nocturnal hypoglycemia–blood sugar dropping too low at night–which wakes you up in the middle of the night, usually between 1-3am. The honey helps with the glycogen stores to keep blood sugar stable during sleep. Adrenal fatigue, low cortisol, and poor blood sugar regulation during the day cause nocturnal hypoglycemia.
This trick does work best for those with adrenal fatigue and blood sugar imbalances who wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, but use it even if you have trouble falling asleep too.
Add Himalayan sea salt for a mineral boost. Minerals, especially magnesium, encourage restful sleep and help balance the nervous system. Himalayan salt contains about 84 minerals and trace minerals, including magnesium.
Here’s how to make the magic honey sleep hack:
First off, use raw honey. Quality matters. Do NOT use that stuff in the plastic bear. Poor quality honey is often cut with corn syrup. More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing. (source). Click here for a list of such brands. I recommend locally produced, raw honey. You’re likely to find it at your area farmers’ market. You could also use manuka honey, which offers amazing health benefits like its ability to kill h pylori bacteria. I’ve also used and like this brand.
Mix about 5 teaspoons of the raw honey together with 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt, and take 1 teaspoon before bed. You could mix in a little almond or coconut butter if you like. Or you could also try it in this anti-inflammatory golden milk recipe.
That’s it! Super simple. Remember though that this is a bio-hack, and you do want to determine the underlying dysfunction that’s creating the sleep issue. Make sure to focus on blood sugar stability during the day by eating regularly and getting enough protein and good fats; cut out alcohol, which disrupts sleep; and work on your sleep hygiene! This means sleeping in a cool, very dark room with no electronics. Read my sleep tips here and here.
Have you tried the magic honey bio-hack? Let me know how it worked for you!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.