A few days ago I noted that I had slept unusually well. I wondered why. The previous day had been unusual in five ways (yogurt blueberries and honey 2 hours before bedtime, only one blackout curtain, chocolate, unusual timing of morning faces, new brand of honey). Was one of them responsible? Or was it random variation?
The next day I repeated four of the five unusual things: only one blackout curtain, chocolate, unusual timing of morning faces, new brand of honey. Result: I did not sleep unusually well. This pointed to either yogurt blueberries and honey or random variation as the explanation. Those happened to be the explanations I had considered most plausible (yogurt blueberries and honey) and least plausible (random variation).
Yesterday I repeated all five of the unusual things. Yesterday evening it took longer than usual to fall asleep. Usually I fall asleep within a minute, but this time it took about 4 minutes. As I was lying there, I attributed the long latency to lack of exercise that day. In the morning, for the first time in my whole life, I woke up what a friend called “full of jitters”. Very rested, yes, but also too much energy. As if I’d had too much caffeine. Usually I have a cup of black tea first thing in the morning. I started to make one and realized it would make things worse, not better. As I said, this has never happened before.
So it was the yogurt blueberries and honey. The first time I had it I had added the honey just for sweetener and hadn’t measured it. The second time I did measure the honey — 14 g, about 2 teaspoons. Probably more than I had used the first time, which may explain the different results (1st time: very rested, 2nd time: very rested and jittery). Both times I ate 125 g blueberries, which has 12 g sugar (half glucose, half fructose). I doubt the yogurt (homemade, no sugar added) matters.
Perhaps the best dose (for me) will turn out to be one teaspoon honey 2 hours before bedtime and one tablespoon of honey at bedtime. I had tried taking more than one tablespoon of honey at bedtime; it seemed to produce the same effect as one tablespoon.
I want to test with and without blueberries, of course, and different amounts of honey 2 hours before bedtime. If honey alone is powerful, then I will test different forms of sugar. I don’t want to be at the mercy of differences between brands of honey, although honey is very convenient.
Let’s say it turns out to be the sugar in honey that produces these big improvements in sleep. Then it will turn out that the nutritionists of the world have been even more wrong about sugar than they were about saturated fat. All the data is not yet in, let me repeat. But the data so far unquestionably point in a surprising direction. It is entirely possible that sugar — in the right amounts at the right times of day — will turn out to be the greatest health food of all.
Which would explain what has never been well-explained: why we like it so much.