This was a rather tough little experiment I’ve done on occasion for quite a while now, perhaps over a year or more. That’s simply because I really don’t have much problem with good sleep. Since I’m human, live in a complex world, and have made my way in producing my own income since 1992, I expect that sometimes I’m going to have disturbed sleep. Or, hell, I’m married, too. ;)
…Sometime back, on the late Seth Roberts’ blog, I caught wind of an intervention where one takes maybe 1-2 TBS of honey (17-34g sugar carbs) before bed each night, and has better sleep. I’ve mentioned it in comments a couple of times and have been told that Ray Peat and Matt Stone have advocated fruit juice for the same purpose. It got me thinking. Could that be why my dad, and so may others, like a glass of warm milk before bed? (I dislike warm milk—I like ice cold milk—and I suspect the therapeutic value is in the sugar, not the temperature.)
I’ll get to my details in a minute; but first, I Googled around this morning…something like: ‘sugar before bed for insomnia.’ And zero of the links on the first page of results mentioned anything about sugar. Instead, it was all links to popular bogs with lists of up to 10 things to avoid. News Flash: Don’t drink a Venti mega-quadruple-shot mocha chocolate latte frappuccino before bed. Some of this was from “Paleo” bolgs of the sort where you have to have a list of instructions to, literally, do anything, Cage-the-Animal, style. Curiously, when I was in college, senior year, taking a course on vector calculus for fun that I didn’t need, I found that pulling all-nighters in advance of tests, with copious coffee, nonetheless didn’t hamper my ability to crash at 4-5am for a few hours.
So it’s taken a while, since I sleep pretty damn well. I’m BULLETPROOF! (apologies to Dave). But I also got interested because the dream state often reported with lots of fibers for the gut opened my eyes to the vast complexities of what we take for granted every night. I wondered what might happen, combining the two.
So I did. Now, I use a fiber concoction of more than a dozen things, and I often mix it with 4 oz of OJ, and 4 oz of whole milk, and often with a raw egg (Orange Julius with smoothness and texture). …I’ll be putting up my recipe soon: no longer interested in developing and marketing a product.
OK, so as I said, this took a while, because I wanted to intuitively shake out the confounders—not in a purely scientific way, but more an intuitive one. Just make sure I’ve done it in enough differing circumstances that I get some sense of real resolution. Obviously, someone with chronic insomnia would make a far better test subject. On the other hand, one doesn’t need to be an insomniac to enjoy better, deeper sleep.
Accordingly, sometimes I take a TBS or two of honey, sometimes about 4oz of OJ, and I’ve even tried 4-6 oz of craft root beer, made with cane sugar (I just avoid HFCS, I doubt it would make a substantial difference towards the goal). Can’t tell any difference, which leads me to believe that sugar can help you sleep better, deeper, longer. When I do this, I very often experience bouts of very deep sleep lasting 4-6 hours in a stretch, without waking up, or having to expel yellow saline. Add the gut fibers, and you get a dream novel on top of it—leading you to believe that you do, actually, have a novel or two of your own weird making, in you. Various probiotics might help too, and I’ll soon be blogging about a new one from the UK—mega high dose, intended for short-bout dosages of 3-6 days, periodically.
The other thing I’ve done many times, and perhaps more importantly, is to not do any of that before-bed intervention, but wait for one of those nights where I wake up sometime between 2-4 am, and it takes 1-2 hours to get back to sleep. I’ll eventually always get back to sleep; but what I’ve found for myself, including last night—which prompted this post, finally—is that it almost never takes more than 2 hours, or less than 1 if I do nothing, but it can take only 15 minutes.
Since I’ve been doing this a while in many different ways, last night I decided to try to bring it home for me. I went to bed tired at about 11pm, having been up since 6am. Went to sleep head-pillow like. Woke up 4 hours later. Usually, it’s take a piss, go right back to sleep. Not this time. Tossed, seemingly wide awake. Had a little bout of restless leg (this is a rare acute thing for me; chronic for my dad—since I was a kid). So, after an hour—it’s 4am—I go in, take about a half cup of OJ with a couple of ounces of salty club soda (straight OJ is too sweet for me), and next thing I know, it’s 7:15.
So, there you go. You can try it if you like, or stupidly believe it’s going to kill your pancreatic beta cells…and that it’s more important to live in sleep frustration over years and decades than “kill beta cells” in your imagination, because: that’s what the LOW CARB RELIGION HUMANOIDS want you to believe because they live in deprived sleep misery themselves, and want plenty of commiseration and comfort—perhaps so you can come up with a low-carb alternative.
Or, just whatever. Try it and see, or don’t. And I don’t care either way.