Honey for Great Sleep
Honey has been used as a popular sleep aid for thousands of years. An ancient Chinese saying calls for “eating honey every night,” and European folk healers have recommended drinking a cup of warm milk with honey before bedtime since the Middle Ages.
Another old-fashioned remedy is to take two teaspoons of cider vinegar with two teaspoons of honey in a glass of warm water before bedtime, while traditional Mexican healers have long prescribed a teaspoon of raw honey in a cup of warm chamomile tea. Variations include a teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water, a teaspoon of honey in a cup of passion flower tea, or simply a smear of honey on a peanut-butter sandwich before bedtime.
Honey, Sleep, and the HYMN Cycle
Scottish pharmacist, researcher, and author Mike McInnes believes that honey improves, facilitates, and lengthens restorative sleep by at least three mechanisms. When taken before bedtime, he teaches that honey:
* Ensures adequate liver-glycogen stores for eight hours of sleep. this prevens or limits the early-morning release of two stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
* Stabilizes blood-sugar levels.
* Contributes to the release of melatonin, the hormone required for both the recoery and rebuilding of body tissues during rest.
The mechanism for this process can be explained by what McInnes calls the Honey-Insulin-Melatonin Cycle, or “HYMN Cycle.” The cycle is described in detail in his revolutionary book The Hibernation Diet, co-authored with his son Stuart.
How does the HYMN Cycle work? In a lecture and poster presentation at the First International Symposium on Honey and Human Health on January 8, 2008, McInnes described this complex process, which begins with the ingestion of one or two tablespoons of honey in the hour prior to bedtime.
The glucose portion of honey is digested and passes into the general blood circulation, producing a mild glucose spike. This mild elevation in blood sugar causes the pancreas to release a small amount of insulin into the bloodstream. This in turn drives tryptophan into the brain, where it is converted to serotonin, a key hormone that promotes relaxation.
There are other functions that honey stimulates, including the production of liver glycogen, to eliminate the release of stress hormones normally released by the adrenal glands to maintain fuel supply to the brain.
McInnes prescribes taking one to two tablespoons of honey an hour before bedtime in order to activate the HYMN Cycle.
Adapted from The Honey Prescription, by Nathaniel Altman (Healing Arts Press, 2010).Honey for Great Sleep,