Sleep and Bedtime Honey: More About Strength Improvement

In my first post about the use of bedtime honey to improve sleep, I included a graph that showed my legs suddenly got much stronger when I started the honey. I measured how long I could stand on one leg (bent). I had been doing this four times per day (left leg twice, right leg twice) for a long time to sleep better.

A reader of this blog named Nile McAdams found bedtime honey caused him to get stronger, too. He measured arm strength.

Soon after my legs got much stronger I reduced my one-leg standing from four/day to two/day to save time. The improvement stopped, but the gains persisted:

 photo 2i013-12-30onelegstandingimprovedbybedtimehoney_zps94da9fcb.jpeg

Note the logarithmic y axis. Each point is a different day, an average of the first left leg stand and the first right leg stand of that day.

The graph shows I am much stronger with half as much effort. As I said, the strength improvement has also been easy to notice in everyday activities, including walking, stair climbing (I live on the top floor of a six-floor walkup) and bike riding.

I have been unable to find research that shows a similar effect. Judging by a 2010 textbook, exercise physiologists don’t know about it.

4 Replies to “Sleep and Bedtime Honey: More About Strength Improvement”

  1. Seth, this reminds me of a technique called “carbo backloading”. The basic idea is that you can gain muscle by (1) exercising later in the day (e.g. after 3 pm) and (2) eating simple carbohydrates (e.g. honey, but I don’t remember anyone discussing honey specifically with regard to the procedure) during the 3 hour window after exercising. Not sure if these are related (and I guess there is considerable debate about whether carbo backloading works) but I wonder if there might be a connection to your findings re: honey and strength gains.

  2. Interestingly, I have a weight lifting book from the mid-1980’s that claims to be based on Bulgarian olympic lifter training. They recommend consuming a teaspoon of honey about 10 minutes before each exercise session and a protein source between 30-180 minutes afterward.

  3. This makes sense: the honey is causing either an insulin spike or a rise in basal insulin. In either case, your insulin is rising. Insulin, aside from being a storage hormone (i.e. causes sugar to be stored as fat) also causes muscle growth.

    The previous two posts make sense in this light. Bodybuilders often take carbs immediately before and/or after a workout for this reason, before or after depending on their philosophy–turns out that an insulin spike will stop HGH secretion after a workout, so this is a potential problem.

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