Sleep is one of the most important pillars of good health, and yet 68% of adults struggle with sleep at least once a week. Whether it’s tossing and turning, feeling too wired, or struggling with low energy during the day, all that bad sleep is not good for your health.
In fact, if you’re not getting at least a solid 40 winks a night (aka 7 to 9 hours), you’ll probably experience less than ideal side effects—most immediately, poor focus, foggy thinking, moodiness, and increased stress. Long term, you can expect to deal with issues like depression, weakened immunity, and obesity. Not sleeping is a massive health hazard!
It’s no joke—sleep is important. And on some level, I think we all know that, which is probably why Americans are projected to spend over $50 billion on sleep aids in 2020. Unfortunately, most of these over the counter aids aren’t great solutions—they come with very serious side effects, can be dangerously habit-forming, and are easily misused and abused. While your sleep may improve temporarily, it’s not guaranteed that your health will, too.
I believe that our daily remedies shouldn’t come with the risk of hurting your health. (Side effects kind of defeat the whole point of “feeling better”, don’t they?) But unfortunately, more than two-thirds of us feel like we have no choice but to turn to risky OTC drugs to get a solid night of shut-eye.
That’s unacceptable. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to reinvent the medicine cabinet with natural solutions that actually work. And yes, I’ve discovered some natural solutions that are sure to help you decompress from the madness of modern living (and cross over more easily into dreamland).
Don’t Sink into the Deep Blue
First things first, it’s time to ditch the tech—just at night. The blue light emitted by the screens on our smartphones, computers, and televisions is detrimental to your sleep quality. Why? You can thank your circadian rhythms and a little something called your sleep wake cycle.
Your sleep wake cycle is your body’s biological clock. It determines when you wake up and when you get sleepy—and that determination depends mostly on the presence or absence of light. When daylight hits your eyeballs in the morning, that signals your brain it’s time to wake up, so it stops producing important sleep hormones like melatonin. At night, when daylight is gone, your body starts producing more melatonin to encourage sleep.
Still with me? Okay, here’s the issue. Research has found that blue light suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other wavelength. In fact, it stimulates alertness, attention, and reaction times—not exactly the vibe you’re looking for when you’re hitting the sack. But the primary light being emitted from our devices is blue light! So looking at a screen around bedtime is confusing your body as to whether it’s daytime or not, and it’s seriously interfering with your melatonin production! Even if you’re sleeping throughout the night, you might be getting poorer quality sleep because of blue light—so consider giving up the bedtime Netflix binges!
If you’re death gripping your tablet to your chest right now, there is another option. For those of you night owls who like to work late hours, wearing blue light blocking glasses can be helpful in mitigating the worst effects of the blue light. These glasses often come with a yellow-ish film and are designed to tone back the amount of blue light your eyes are subjected to. If you’re not into nerdy-cool eyewear, you can also put your smart electronics on “night mode” or download an app like f.lux to tone back the blue light on your screen once the sun sets.
But if you already have your screen game under control and still need real deal support, what do you do? Reach for the over-the-counter doses of drowsiness? Not just yet.
Catch More Zzzs with Honey
While you may think sleeping means ‘rest for your body’, your brain actually uses a lot of energy throughout the night (those crazy dreams have to be powered by something!). One of the main sources of energy for the brain is a type of sugar stored in the liver called glycogen. It’s the brain’s first and favorite source of fast fuel.
But here’s the caveat: liver glycogen is easily depleted (the liver only holds 75-100 grams at a time and our bodies generally consume around 10 grams per hour) which is why dosing a small amount of beneficial sugars right before bed can be key. It can help prevent your confused body from waking you up at 3 or 4am in a crisis search for fuel!
But don’t reach for a nighttime Oreo to get your micro sugar fix. Inflammatory processed sugars won’t do the trick—they only increase your bodily burden. Instead, opt for something that works with your body, like honey. Raw honey helps to nourish and balance your body with easily digestible natural sugars. Lots of wellness professionals, including biohacker Tim Ferriss, use raw honey as their go-to solution for better sleep. It really works, and the science behind it is fascinating. (Ready to nerd out a little?)
Lots of foods naturally contain small amounts of tryptophan (the sleepytime amino acid that we all hear about at Thanksgiving… when everyone rolls around with full bellies and heavy eyelids). But tryptophan can’t help you sleep on its own—it actually has a tough time crossing into the brain. That’s where honey comes in. A small spoonful of raw honey at bedtime (on its own or in some tea) gently raises insulin levels, which allows that tryptophan to cross the blood brain barrier and float more easily into your noggin! And if it’s nighttime, the brain converts that tryptophan into the hormone melatonin—that powerful sleep hormone I mentioned earlier… which you probably recognize as a popular natural sleep aid.
That’s right, raw honey helps your body more effectively produce its own natural sleep dust—safely and naturally. (Why buy melatonin supplements when you can encourage your body to make more of its own?!)
Get Real & Raw
When it comes to raw vs. pasteurized honey, there is no contest. Pasteurization kills most of the beneficial vitamins, antioxidants, and germ-fighting compounds in honey—aka all of the good stuff. And for sleep specifically, raw honey is said to be around 22% better at resupplying liver glycogen than pasteurized conventional honey, so raw really is the winner.
(You Won’t Get High with) a Little Help from Hemp
Toss and turn every single night? Let’s not forget about hemp, the relaxation superstar which has been used for centuries to promote sleep. The beneficial compounds in hemp are renown for promoting overall balance in the body, making it a powerful ally in soothing stress and anxiety and fighting back against insomnia.
And I’m not talking those 420 high feels here. I’m talking about non-psychoactive cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. You see, hemp naturally contains compounds called “cannabinoids”. THC is the one you’ve probably heard of… the one that gets you high, but there are hundreds of others out there that don’t. You can easily reap the benefits of cannabinoids without getting high at all. In fact, our bodies also create their own cannabinoids. We even have an entire system dedicated to them, called the endocannabinoid system.
It’s the endocannabinoid system’s primary job to regulate hormones and energy balance (ahem, stress and sleep), but with the challenges of modern life, this system can easily fall out of balance. That’s why supplementing with the cannabinoids in hemp extract (which naturally contains very little to no THC) can be so helpful in restoring bodily balance—especially for sleep. In fact, a little hemp extract may be just what you need when it’s time for ‘lights out’.
As humble as they may seem, raw honey and hemp extract are the sleep dream team. That’s why I used them to create Beekeeper’s Naturals B.Chill Honey, which is powerfully formulated to help you decompress and sleep sweet (without scary side effects).
Learn more about B.Chill and try it out for yourself here.
If you want to stop wasting your money on risky conventional remedies, ditch the nighttime tv sesh and give honey and hemp a spot on your bedside table. That is, unless you actually enjoy counting sheep…
BIO: Carly Stein is the CEO and founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals, a company on a mission to reinvent the medicine cabinet (and save the bees while they’re at it). Using plant adaptogens along with powerful remedies from the beehive, Carly wants to help people discover clean health solutions that actually work while raising awareness about the plight of our planet’s pollinators.