Bedtime Honey Improves Sleep “1000%. Crazy Good Tip”

On a recent episode of Grumpy Old Geeks, a podcast by Brian Schulmeister and Jason DeFillippo, Jason told what happened when he had honey at bedtime (starts at 1:04:20):

JASON Tim Ferriss posted this . . . I did the experiment. I’ve been doing it for about six days now. Um, yeah, a thousand percent.

BRIAN Really? It’s really helped?

JASON One. Thousand. Percent. I sleep through the night. . . . I can quantifiably tell you that in the morning I am sharper, I get more work done, I am better rested, and I feel a thousand percent better. I’m going with the formula in the article, which is a cup of hot water, mixed with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey. It’s tasty, it’s really tasty, you wouldn’t think vinegar and honey would be great but it almost tastes like an apple cider.

BRIAN That doesn’t sound very appetizing to me, but I’ll trust you that it wasn’t bad.

JASON I found it delicious. And, plus, the hot liquid just before I went to bed, just knocked me out. I fell asleep immediately. . . . I’ve always had problems waking up five or six times in the middle of the night. I have slept through the night ever since I started this. I wake up in the morning ready to go.

BRIAN Excellent.

JASON This is one of the best sleep tips I’ve ever found. . . . The last couple nights I didn’t really have the time, ’cause I was getting kinda tired and I’m just like, you know what, I popped the lid on the honey and poured it down my throat and that feels like 1 tablespoon or 3, whatever. Same effect. . . . I have a tablespoon of honey right before I go to bed. Man, it has really improved how I sleep. Not even that, it’s how I greet the day. I greet the day really just ready to go. I’m a horrible morning person. I hate mornings.

BRIAN [laughs]

JASON If you have problems sleeping, definitely give this a try. Even if you don’t have trouble sleeping. I think it will improve how your body solidifies memory and does muscle rebuilding. They [= Seth and Stuart King] talk about strength improvements and it’s true. It’s ridiculously true. That’s when your muscles heal. . . . . It’s a crazy good tip. So hats off to Tim for passing that one along and I highly recommend it.

BRIAN I don’t have sleep issues . . . but I think I’ll give this a shot anyways and see if I get any of the other benefits.

JASON Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Even if you don’t have sleep problems, it will still help your brain like, hardcode memories. I’ve found that my memory has really improved. Especially with this project that I’m working on. Before I would wake up and it would take me an hour to get back to where I was  . . . [Now] I come back down in the morning and I come back exactly where I was, ready to rock.

BRIAN Awesome. . . . I will definitely try it out.

Lots of research says better sleep = better memory.

43 Responses to “Bedtime Honey Improves Sleep “1000%. Crazy Good Tip””

  1. August Says:

    I tried it again and ran into a drawback. It produces dreams. I don’t dream well, which tends to mean I wake up because the dream is unpleasant. Anyone know of a way to hack dreams? I’ve got enough disappointment in my life; I don’t need these disappointing dreams.

    Seth: Maybe if you tell someone your dreams or keep a “dream journal” they might become less powerful. I don’t know, I haven’t tried this, but see research by James Pennebaker about journaling.

  2. Murray Says:

    Well, I tried taking a tsp of honey for the first time last night right before going to bed, and … woke up at 3-something AM, then stayed mostly awake until my normal get-up time of 5:15. So, not exactly a success story!

    To be fair, over the last few years I’ve had several stretches where I wake up much earlier than I’d like (around 4 am), so last night was only unusual in that I woke up even earlier than I’m accustomed to. I rarely have problems falling asleep, but early waking is a problem.

  3. Murray Says:

    @August

    That’s an interesting coincidence. I was awoken last night at 12:55 by an unpleasant dream (in which I was about to be subjected to a severe group beating) which was so vivid and unsettling that it stuck with me even after I’d gone to the bathroom and back to bed. I rarely experience memorable dreams, and the bathroom usually acts as an effective reset button for sleep-related difficulties. Huh.

  4. Katie Says:

    Two nights ago, I took a TSP of honey before bed and slept very well. Last night, I skipped, and slept like crap. I’m going to start again tonight and see what happens…this is really interesting and something I NEVER would have expected!

  5. Seth Roberts Says:

    “this is really interesting and something I NEVER would have expected!”

    Me too. And I had been trying to improve my sleep for many years.

  6. David199 Says:

    Does anyone have an idea of what the cider vinegar does and how it affects sleep? Thanks

  7. Joel W Says:

    It occurred to me that the connection between sleep and immune systems might be evidence that old wives tale cure of honey lemon and tea or whiskey. Perhaps it’s the improved sleep from the honey.

  8. Jay Says:

    This idea has exploded…

    I tried it out. I’ve done it for about 5 days. Each night I slept about 8 hours. Usually I sleep about 7-7.5 hours.

    Just 5+ years ago I used to have vivid dreams. Now I don’t for some reason. Almost no dream recall in the past few years. Very frustrating, and I think it has affected me mentally.

    However, past 5 nights I’ve had semi-vivid dreams with good recall.

    Although I feel more well-rested when I wake up, I don’t think it’s as significant as some are reporting here. I only feel slightly more well-rested than usual. Not 1000%.

    I’ll keep doing this. I’ll try the apple cider vinegar too.

    Seth: “Exploded”? How can you tell?

  9. daz Says:

    the acv (apple cider vinegar) comment reminded me i actually have a bottle of acv with honey, which has been sitting in my fridge gathering dust (not literally).
    it was a good find at the time because i was not keen on the neat or diluted acv taste.

    so i may give the acv&honey followed by the honey a try.

    this is the stuff i got,
    http://www.wescobee.com/products/apple-cider-vinegar-honey/apple-cider-vinegar-honey-500ml
    there is a pdf there which may be of interest, of course it’s a bit ‘marketing-ey’.

  10. Nile Says:

    August – Google Lucid Dreaming. It is the state of being conscious / aware that you are dreaming. You can then consciously choose to change the dream – change the monster to a friendly pet for example. You can learn to lucid dream by simply asking yourself several times a day while awake “Am I dreaming?” and seriously trying to answer the question by noting color, details in your surroundings, and so on. After a short time, you will ask yourself that question in a dream and you will come to the conclusion you are dreaming! You can then change the dream.

    One can also use lucid dreaming for problem solving. Mostly the results are absurd, ridiculous, nonsense but every so often you will get a creative solution.

    Good Luck – hope it works for you

  11. Tobi Says:

    I tried it out for several days now, and it produces in me a similar effect as when I go to sleep when I have drunk several beers before. I wake up several times during the night, vivid dreams, and feel less rested in the morning rather than more.

    I think it is either due to sugar/carbs or due to that a medicine that cures a condition often also has the side-effect of producing the same condition.

  12. Alex Says:

    Tried taking 1tsp honey for two days right before going to bed. No improvement whatsoever.

  13. Rocky Says:

    I have been taking 1 tsp just before going to bed for the last 4 nights.

    - dreams are more vivid and i recall them now
    - i still wake up 1-3 times during the night; however, i still feel more rested when i get up in the morning
    - energy level in the morning has improved

    Seth: You might be able to increase the amplitude of your sleep/wake rhythm — be more awake during the day, more asleep at night (and thus avoid waking up during the night) — if you got some (or more) sunlight in the morning. I try to get at least an hour.

  14. Murray Says:

    Tried a tsp of honey again last night at around 10 pm. Slept soundly and dreamlessly … and woke up, reasonably bright and alert, at 3:46 am.

    I’ll keep trying for another couple of nights, but it looks like the honey is not working for me as it is for others. The only difference I can tell is that I MAY be more alert and energetic than I would expect to be for two consecutive nights in which I awoke very early.

    Seth: What’s wrong with waking up at 3:46 am if you feel well-rested?

  15. Kirk Says:

    Honey before bedtime improves my sleep about 50% of the nights. Unfortunately, it also makes me gain weight.

    On the nights it does not work, it either has no impact or there has been some external influence (the house temperature was too cold, the temperature was too hot, there was a loud thump somewhere in the house, people or pet noises . . . )

    Also, I find no difference between taking 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon.

  16. Brian Says:

    Put me down in the weight gain crowd. I also notice sinus drainage afterwards. My sleep, however, was noticeably better.

  17. Joe Says:

    On a whim, I tried taking a tablespoon of honey before bed last night.

    Results? No difference.

    Different strokes for different folks?

    Seth: Two things seem to matter. 1. You must take it on an empty stomach. 2. You must not have sweets during the day. Did you violate either of these?

  18. libfree Says:

    I’ve been trying this for two weeks now and have been impressed with the results. Noticeably better sleep with myself feeling more well rested. I didn’t notice the effect in the first 2 nights and I also didn’t get good results last night. I did have a lot more dairy than usual last night and I went to sleep earlier than usual.

  19. Ashish Says:

    I’m doing the orange glasses, and it’s been great so far. But vinegar and honey are both reputed to be quite bad for the teeth, which are even harder to replace than a bad night’s sleep. In other words … let us know after your next visit to the dentist. I want it to work – fingers crossed.

    (Why doesn’t a jar of honey go bad? Because it isn’t full of oral bacteria.)

    Seth: Vinegar is unnecessary — I don’t drink it. I brush my teeth after eating the honey.

  20. Stuart King Says:

    I have also noticed that my dreams have been more vivid and I have better recall. I’ve even had a dream within a dream (like the movie inception) and moved between dream levels, with the realities being consistent between dream levels. Its a weird thing to remember details of a dream whilst you are already dreaming, yet not realising that your still dreaming.
    I also seem to be waking much earlier on many days, but I feel pretty good when I do (it doesn’t seem unnatural and it varies from day to day). Is it possible that you don’t need the same amount of sleep every day? I tend to doze lightly for a few more hours – I have a feeling that might not be a good thing though. I think the honey leads to better quality sleep – which may mean that less sleeping hours are needed

  21. Troy Says:

    My wife and I have both tried this over the last week or so, and it’s definitely improved things for us. Huge difference in quality of sleep and energy levels on waking.

    In the N=1 (or 2!) spirit of your blog, I have a theory on the mechanism – that honey eases the transition both into and out of “real” sleep. I say this because we have a 20-month old child who occasionally wakes up in the night. One the two occasions this has happened since we’ve started taking honey, I’ve noticed 2 things:
    1) that the awakening on hearing him does not have the normal, slightly traumatic feeling of being “yanked out” of sleep, which I’d feel as chest and head tension in the past. The quality of wakefulness is “full”, though, but I just feel calm and alert.
    2) Having settled him, it’s now possible to return to sleep immediately (which was difficult/impossible to do quickly before)

    It would follow (if this theory were true) that honey does a couple of things:
    1) speeds up time-to-sleep from bedtime
    2) militates against the damage to sleep from partial or full arousal during the night (external (or internal stress) stimuli, but also apnea, restless partners, etc.)

    and might also explain why it doesn’t work with everyone (i.e. may not improve problems with “baseline” or “best possible” sleep)

    Great tip, anyway, from our point of view.

    Seth: Bedtime honey increased my strength; it increased how much exercise increased muscle. That suggests an all-night effect. So does the fact you felt differently in the middle of the night (when awoken).

  22. Arndt Says:

    I take honey before going to bed for 2 weeks now and I sleep like a rock and I had always difficulties falling asleep. Actually my sleep problems started at age 5 and I was kind of bedphobic as it took me hours to fall asleep and every bit of noise or light would wake me up. I always knew that honey and dates make me sleepy but I had never the sense to do it before going to bed. I eat mostly fruits and meat during the day and it still works.

  23. Murray Says:

    Day 3: Bed at 10:40 pm, awake at 3:55 am. The moderate sleep deprivation is beginning to catch up with me, though I still seem alert.

    It’s possible that the honey doesn’t work for me because I’m violating the rules Seth mentioned above. I fast (or semi-fast, eating only nuts, seeds, and sugar-free gum) most days, then do much of my eating in the evening, including energy-dense foods like high-fat yogurt and the like. So it’s unlikely that I have the requisite empty stomach at bedtime.

  24. Joe Says:

    “Seth: Two things seem to matter. 1. You must take it on an empty stomach. 2. You must not have sweets during the day. Did you violate either of these?”

    I violated #2.

    I’ll give it another try… as soon as the paleo brownies are gone. :)

    Seth: Very interesting…that I was able to sort of predict something.

  25. Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    I’m getting decent results from honey if I don’t eat (much?) sugar during the day. However, I also find that my tongue stings a little the day after, as though I’ve burnt it by eating excessively hot food. Is this happening to anyone else?

  26. Sentinel Says:

    Murray—can you describe what you mean when you say that you’re now sleep deprived? Is your overall energy level lower? Is your energy level good when you wake at 3 or 4am only to see it collapse later in the day? Or is it just a matter of your expectation about the correct time to wake? I do not mean to criticize, I am just curious!

    Seth—for the purposes of Pre-sleep Honeying, how would you define “empty stomach” – 3 hours without other calories?

  27. daz Says:

    …how would you define “empty stomach”…

    Seth mentioned (under one of the other posts) that eating dessert (after dinner) may have improved his sleep, if that is indeed the case, then may be an empty stomach is not so important?

  28. Seth Roberts Says:

    “may be an empty stomach is not so important?”

    Yes, that is a reasonable idea. However, I tried eating the honey with a piece of cheese. It didn’t work. Why did it work when I had dessert after a meal — perhaps on a not-entirely-empty stomach? I don’t know. There are dozens of differences between 1. honey at bedtime and 2. dessert after a meal. I cannot say that dessert after a meal always made me sleep better.

    Perhaps with dessert after a meal there is more time for the sugar to be digested — hours, for example — before it is needed. Slowing down that digestion with other food is okay or even beneficial. Maybe the first hour of sleep is especially sensitive to blood glucose.

  29. Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    Last night, I had my honey– then killed a good bit of leftover cheese/sausage omelet, and still saw improvement in my sleep.

  30. Dan Sullivan Says:

    Just inspired me to go try. I had apple cider vinegar already that I’d bought for something else, and it tasted nasty but worked (muscle cramps). I had tried to cut the flavor with juice but honey **worked** to make it taste better. this is what I have: http://charliehorselegcramps.com/.

  31. Chloe Hodder Says:

    A note for those who are not experiencing positive results – I would make sure that you use raw organic ACV that is, as creepy as it sounds, “with the mother” (this is the cloudy ACV). This is vital if you want to be consuming the nutrients and enzymes. Similarly, raw honey contains all the benefits while the processed counterparts strip all nutritional value and use artificial sweetners and corn syrup in its place. Raw honey is also cloudy and solid at room temp.

  32. Birgit Says:

    Will def. try this although a tablespoon of honey contains approx. 17g of carbohydrates and I’m a low-carber.

    As to the vivid dreams, I found out by chance that Vit. B6 is required to have them. So if you’re lacking try to increase food containing it or supplement. It’s fun!

    Seth: The honey effect implies there is something seriously wrong with low-carbing — at least the view that carbs are unhealthy.

  33. Birgit Says:

    NB: I read the other day that most honey in the US (I’m in Europe) is fake, i.e. no pollen but HFCS. Besides the GMO issue… Yuck! So one should make sure to find the proper stuff.

  34. Jenny Says:

    I take 500mg of rhodiola in the morning. After 7 days or so the quality of my sleep improved dramatically. Love it. I take 500mg in the morning, look for Siberian rhodiola rosea, plus it MUST be 3% rosavins 1% salidrosides.

  35. Reinhard Says:

    Dear Seth, Thank you for your intriguing post. What kind/brand of honey did you use? Do you think the quality of the honey matters, i.e. raw vs. heated, organic vs. conventional? Is Manuka honey a good option?

  36. Sandy Says:

    I’m not surprised. Sugar (as well as salt) lower adrenaline, which are an issue in people with sleep problems. I’ve had the same effect having a glass of warm milk with sugar + a pinch of salt, or even some OJ.

  37. George Says:

    More of a question then a comment. Isn’t honey you buy in the store homogenized, heat treated? Maybe try fresh honey for better results. I just read this so I’ll give it a try.

    Seth: Pasteurized (= “heat treated”) honey works fine for this. I don’t know what you mean by “homogenized”.

  38. Seth Roberts Says:

    “What kind/brand of honey did you use? Do you think the quality of the honey matters, i.e. raw vs. heated, organic vs. conventional? Is Manuka honey a good option?”

    I have used French, German and Australian honeys. They are heated, probably conventional although I am not sure. I don’t know if Manuka honey is worth the extra expense. You certainly don’t need it for this.

  39. Joel Alain Says:

    @August

    I use to have nightmares from age 10 to age 27 EVERY night. Bad, horrible, make-you-feel-like-crap nightmares… Then i found out why:

    It only happened when i HATE before bed (2 hours or less). So everytime i went to bed with my digestion going, i was 100% sure to have nightmares. It took me so long to notice that… but anyway, now i did and im really glad.

    Digestion is a process that use tremendous resources and energy so it somehow affected my brain. Now that i dont eat before bed, no more nightmares.

    To solve your problem, i would not eat 3-4 hours prior to bed + drink a SMALL cup of water+honey (100 ml or less). Maybe your cup is too big (americans tend to have a “skewed” vision of what small is ;)

    Joel

  40. Jason DeFillippo Says:

    Hey Seth. Thanks for the link! Just some follow-up. I use Aunt Sue’s Raw honey. I’ve tried using the raw organic stuff from Trader Joe’s and it tastes like crap and didn’t have the same effect at all. Aunt Sue’s is about twice as expensive but tastes great and works like a charm.

    We actually recorded a podcast with Tim Ferriss yesterday and as an experiment I stopped taking it the night before the show so we could talk about it and I slept like CRAP! Went back on it last night and slept like a baby and woke up feeling great.

    Our new ep with Tim comes out on Friday. We spent a good hour and cover some good stuff including this.

    Cheers!

    Seth: Thank you, Jason. If I want people to read just one reaction to my original post, I give them yours.

  41. vincent Says:

    sugar crash at 3am. it’s not for everyone!

  42. Anthony Says:

    This was in no way tasty!!! I’ll keep trying though. Had a late dinner so that may have affected. Went to bed at 1:04 took 17 min to fall asleep woke up once in the middle of the night (morning). Had 3h59min of ligh sleep and 2h46min of deep sleep according to my Withings Health PULSE. Woke around 8am

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