My mother always used to tell me to eat a spoon of honey before bed. Especially if I was having trouble falling asleep.
My mom did not come up with this technique. As far as my readings have taken me, I think this is an ancient Chinese saying.
Interestingly enough, a warm glass of milk with a spoon of gold honey has been part of European folk since the dark ages. Could two different cultures, continents apart recommend honey for better sleep? How about 3 cultures, on 3 different continents? Traditional Mexican healers have also sang songs about honey and have recommended it to pregnant women so they can fall asleep easier.
So, 3 cultures, 3 continents, thousands of kilometers apart have all found honey to be an elixir for good night sleep.
Nowadays a lot of parents avoid giving their children sweets before bed. Namely because artificial sweeteners can cause sugar rush. As a result, the organism not only refuses to go to sleep, but it becomes wide awake.
Furthermore, artificial sugars will help you gain weight. Especially when consumed before bed. Right before your metabolism almost completely shuts off.
Honey, however, has the opposite effect. Honey stimulates the liver to process toxins more effectively. As a result, honey helps your organism burn fat at a faster rate. True story!
Recovery vs Stress
There two types of physiologies that our body can activate when we go to rest or sleep, namely recovery or stress. There is little doubt which physiological state sounds better and is, of course, clinically proven to be better.
When our bodies go to sleep, our livers go to work to repair them. If you think of your liver as an engine, and you think of honey as engine oil, the equation becomes pretty clear. The more high quality engine oil you have, the better your engine will work. However, the engine oil that your liver needs is actually called glycogen.
Glycogen is not solely produced by honey. It is produced by a variety of foods, and the liver can store up to 75 grams of it at a time. Considering that our bodies tend to consume glycogen at around 10 grams per hour, it is needless to say that we need to replenish it quite often.
Refilling the levels of glycogen during the day is an easy task. As long as you eat a few meals a day, you will be fine.
The problem with refueling our livers comes at night. If you had your dinner around 7PM, and you go to bed around 11PM, your liver is almost out of glycogen. Now, most people think that the consumption of glycogen will slow down, as our bodies are asleep. And most people are wrong.
Interestingly enough, our brains make up only 2% of our entire body mass. However, that does not stop them from being the hungriest and most demanding organ of our bodies. See, our brains burn up to 20 times the fuel when compared to any other cell in the body. When asleep, the brain is resting, but it’s also working just as hard. Collecting and indexing memories and dreaming all take a lot of fuel to complete.
Stress = weight gain
When we go to bed with a depleted liver, our brain thinks that our bodies are starving. In order to defend the body, the brain activates stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). These hormones inhibit glucose and fat metabolism causing your body to gain weight.
When stress hormones are activated we tend to wake up, or just have a really hard time falling asleep. When the adrenals are in overdrive, this directly affects our quality of sleep.
Honey = glucose
It has been determined that honey contains a perfect fructose to glucose ratio to support the liver. As such, if we choose to eat a spoon of honey before bed, we actively choose to resupply our livers with enough fuel for the night. This on the other hand activates the recovery hormones.
Since honey is easy to digest, the rest of our organisms, such as the digestive system, are not bothered. A full table spoon of honey is enough to resupply our livers and help us achieve 8 hours of sweet dreams.