Did you know that honey has long used to induce sleep? For instance, European folk healers suggested drinking a cup of warm milk with honey before going to bed, and an ancient Chinese saying calls for eating honey every night.
Honey and Sleep (The HYMN Cycle)
According to Mike McInnis, a Scottish pharmacist, researcher, and author, honey remedies improve sleep by three mechanisms. He argues that honey:
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels
- Promotes proper live glycogen stores for 8 hours of sleep
- Supports the release of melatonin, a hormone needed for rebuilding body tissues during rest
The mechanisms can be described by honey-insulin-melatonin cycle, also known as HYMN cycle. It starts with ingestion of a tablespoon or two of honey in the hour before bedtime, as follows:
- The glucose content of honey passes from the gut, through the liver, and produces a mild glucose spike.
- The mild elevation in sugar levels promotes a controlled release of insulin from the pancreas.
- Insulin in the circulations drives tryptophan to the brain.
- Tryptophan is turned into serotonin, a hormone that promotes relaxation.
- Serotonin is then turned into melatonin.
- Melatonin reduces body temperature, which in turn activates sleep. It also stops the release of more insulin, preventing a drop in bl0od sugar levels.
- Melatonin promotes the release of growth hormone, a hormone that rules all of recovery physiology.
- A series of recovery hormones starts the repair and rebuilding of muscle, bone, and other body tissues.
- Melatonin affects memory consolidation as it takes part in the formation of molecules during REM sleep. These molecules are needed for the processing of both short-term and long-term memory.
- Fructose moiety of honey playas an important role too: the liver converts it into glucose, then to liver glycogen, and thus provides the brain with supply of glucose for the night.
- Fructose regulates glucose uptake by stimulating the release of glucokinase from the hepatocyte nuclei.
- Proper liver glycogen supply means that stress hormones need not to be released.
Honey Remedies for Insomnia
- Add a teaspoon of honey to a cup of peppermint tea. You can add a clove too, if desired.
- Mix two ounces of honey with five drops of lavender oil. Add a tablespoon or two of the mixture to a tub of water and enjoy a 15-minute soak.
- Add two teaspoons of honey to a cup of warm milk and drink before bedtime.
- Dilute some orange juice with lukewarm water, and then add two teaspoons of honey. Drink it before bedtime.
- Add a teaspoon of honey to a cup of warm chamomile, lemon balm, linden flower, and orange blossom tea. Again, drink before bedtime.