When we think of the best foods to eat at night, raw honey might not pop into our heads because of how sweet it is, and eating anything sweet before bed typically doesn’t end well. But raw honey is different because of its natural composition, to the point where some doctors are even recommending it be taken before bedtime.
Among them is Dr. Ron Fessenden, MD, who authored the book ‘The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations.’ Fessenen is among those recommending honey as an ideal food for many reasons and to be taken at many different times of day, but perhaps most interestingly before bed in order to support a healthy night’s sleep.
Honey may be one of the sweetest foods out there, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful for your body as it undergoes the repairing process overnight. As always make sure your honey is raw and organic, since most grocery store brands are imported, contain GMOs, and are oftentimes heated so that many of the beneficial compounds are destroyed in the name of “safety.” In this case it’s best to buy it directly from the farmer.
How raw honey aids in sleep quality (and quantity)
As noted by Fessenden, raw honey contains “an ideal ratio of fructose to glucose,’ to support the liver, an organ that works overtime literally and figuratively, during the sleeping process. Eating honey ensures that the liver will have an adequate supply of liver glycogen throughout the day, and taking it before bedtime can serve as the perfect liver fuel at night. Combined with adequate, pure water, your body should have most of what it needs to perform its restorative and detoxing functions.
According to this blog post from Fessenden, honey promotes a truly deep and restorative sleep in two main ways.
First, it allows for an adequate supply of liver glycogen overnight while your body is fasting and stores are low. He notes that the average adult liver only has about 75 to 100 grams worth of storage space for glycogen, which varies between men and women of different body sizes. Per hour the body consumes about 10 grams of glycogen during the day, leaving our stores quite low by the time our heads hit the pillow at 11 p.m.
That leaves less liver glycogen than is needed for eight hours of sleep if you ate dinner at 6 p.m., Fessenden says.
However, if you take a teaspoon or two of honey before bed, you’ll be re-stocking your liver with glycogen so that your brain doesn’t activate a stress response, which often occurs when glycogen is low. Honey also contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain, as it leads to a slight spike in insulin levels and the release of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan leads to serontonin which is made into melatonin in the dark.
Finally, when adding honey to your diet at night, you’ll be supporting a healthy metabolism as your liver goes to work breaking down the toxins that are ultimately stored in fat cells.
Other health benefits of honey
In addition to the ability to help us have a restful night’s sleep, honey has a wide range of benefits that have been tested throughout time. Honey virtually never spoils, as it has been found in Egyptian tombs still intact after many hundreds of years. The popular sweetener is also anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, excellent for reducing throat irritation, great for athletes, and much more, as this article notes.
Regardless of how you use your honey, don’t forget to buy organic and raw from a local farmer: the benefits of honey have been enjoyed for thousands of years, but they just don’t make it the way they used to anymore (unless you buy from a trustworthy organic farmer or beekeeper, that is).