Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Honey before bedtime improves brain function, mental acuity

Sleep debt or chronic partial sleep deprivation from poor quality sleep has been shown to have a detrimental effect on overall energy metabolism in the body. The toxic interaction of impaired energy metabolism and chronic partial sleep loss is the underlying cause of the reduction in melatonin and the loss of brain function as we age. Failure to provide sufficient energy for the brain during sleep has a significant adverse effect on brain metabolism and on memory and learning.
Ironically, the most severe negative effect on brain energy provision occurs from chronic increased food consumption and the resultant excessive insulin production that follows. Excess insulin in the central nervous system has a profound negative influence on brain metabolism and on memory and learning. Hyperinsulinism prevents glucose uptake into the brain causing partial brain starvation. Our brain is actually starving during periods of excess energy availability.
Insulin also inhibits an enzyme in the brain which allows the accumulation of glutamate in the synaptic space between brain neurons. This leads to irreversible damage of nerve cells in the brain and deterioration of brain function.
Consuming honey before bedtime reduces the release of stress hormones and maximizes the production and release of melatonin, a hormone which is also known as the “learning hormone.” Overproduction of stress hormones night after night inhibit the release of melatonin. When melatonin is produced normally, it inhibits the negative effects of too much insulin in the brain.
Quality sleep which is critical for memory consolidation and vital in human learning may therefore be achieved by a simple strategy of consuming a tablespoon of honey before bedtime. This strategy optimizes recovery physiology, reduces chronic overproduction of adrenal stress hormones that inhibit melatonin, and produces the exact metabolic environment required for the release of melatonin, growth hormone and IGF-1, the key hormones of memory consolidation and learning.

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