Honey and Vinegar Tonic for Insomnia

Can you use honey and apple cider vinegar for sleep? Although there's little evidence supporting either one as a cure for insomnia, some research has pointed to their usefulness when you're trying to combat restless sleep.

Even though there’s no evidence showing that honey alleviates symptoms of insomnia, one study demonstrated that honey can help treat a nocturnal cough as well as the sleep issues that go along with it. (Image: ediebloom/iStock/GettyImages)

Basics of Insomnia

If you suffer from restless nights with little sleep, you are not alone: about one in seven adults are afflicted with chronic insomnia, according to the Office on Women's Health. Moreover, one in four women have insomnia symptoms, such as trouble falling or staying asleep.

The Office on Women's Health defines insomnia as a sleep disorder in which you're unable to fall asleep, you wake up too early or you feel unrested after sleep at least three nights a week for at least three months. Chronic insomnia can make it challenging to carry out everyday tasks and may lead to other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke or depression.

The cause of insomnia is unknown, though it's speculated that stressful life events or changes in routine can trigger the sleep disorder. Furthermore, consuming alcohol, tobacco or caffeine before bed, having a new baby or being in a bad sleep environment can aggravate symptoms. If insomnia symptoms persist, visit your doctor for advice on possible treatments.

Honey and Night Coughing

Even though there's no evidence showing that honey alleviates symptoms of insomnia, one study demonstrated that honey can help treat a nocturnal cough as well as the sleep issues that go along with it.

An April 2012 study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics compared the effects of a single nocturnal dose of three honey products to a placebo on nocturnal coughing and insomnia associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infections.

The study found that in all three products and the placebo group, there was a noteworthy improvement in the subjects' coughing and sleep quality from the night before treatment to the night of treatment, although there was a greater improvement in the honey groups.

With that in mind, although honey can't cure your insomnia, it may help you get a better night's sleep if a cough is what's keeping you up.

Apple Cider Vinegar Uses

Apple cider vinegar is purported to have several uses, among them trapping fruit flies and serving as a surface cleaner. In spite of these apple cider vinegar uses, its health benefits are less evidence based.

Despite speculation that apple cider vinegar can induce better sleep by stimulating the release of tryptophan, there's scant evidence supporting this claim. Whether apple cider vinegar can produce calming effects before bedtime to aid in sleep has yet to be determined.

What's more, in some cases, apple cider vinegar can do more harm than good. According to Harvard Health, undiluted vinegar can damage tooth enamel. Moreover, it can cause lower potassium levels and, in some cases, alter insulin levels.

And in the words of Mount Sinai Clinical Nutrition Coordinator Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN, in a 2017 interview with ABC News, "The downside to apple cider vinegar is that it's really acidic, especially if you consume it in its concentrated form."

How to Get Better Sleep

If you can't rely on honey and apple cider vinegar for sleep, what are some of the ways you can help ensure the right amount of zzz's?

  • The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom recommends making sure you wind down by taking a hot bath, doing relaxing exercises, reading a book and avoiding technology.
  • The NHS also suggests making your bedroom a "sleep friendly" and relaxing environment. Ideally your room should be dark and quiet and kept at a comfortable temperature.
  • Keeping a sleep diary may be helpful as well, according to the NHS, since it can help you target the reason for your sleeplessness.
  • The Office on Women's Health recommends going to sleep at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning.
  • Other recommendations include getting regular physical activity during the day, going outside for at least 15 to 20 minutes per day and not having alcohol, caffeine or nicotine at least five hours before bed.
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