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The Top 6 Ways to Improve Sleep Using Food

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Most people have a hard time connecting what they eat with how their brains work later.  Researchers are only beginning to understand how things like fructose make your brain not work as well.  If you mention to most scientists that grass-fed butter makes you think faster, they look at you as if you had a second head (which is a perfect analogy, since I feel twice as smart when I eat more butter. 😉

Not only does the Bulletproof Diet make you smarter, it also helps you improve sleep.  Sleep problems are often brain problems, and brain solutions are also sleep solutions.  Eating the Bulletproof Diet gets most people much closer to where they need to be in terms of sleep quality and quantity, but everyone can benefit from a little extra sleep quality.  I use these techniques when I’m traveling or under a lot of stress.  Here are the top six ways you can use diet to improve your sleep.

1. Fill up with fat at dinner.

Fat is like diesel fuel for your mind and body.  If your brain is always running on sugar, you get large blood sugar swings that make you tired, but also hungry, which is exactly what you don’t want If you’re trying to fall asleep.

Filling up with clean fats before bedtime gives you a steady stream of energy that prevents hunger and blood sugar swings.  Grass-fed butter, animal fat, and coconut oil are all good choices, but MCT oil is my personal favorite.  MCT oil is converted into ketones, which are immediately used as fuel for your brain.  MCT oil also helps burn body fat while you sleep.

I’ve also noticed that I think faster and more clearly the next morning if I eat 1-2 tablespoons of MCT the night before with dinner, or even right before bed.  It works even better with protein. Caution: if you’re not used to any MCT at all, start slowly – too much MCT can cause the runs, which definitely keep you from sleeping well.

2. Prime your system with protein.

We use protein for muscle repair and immune function.  Your body repairs muscle tissue at night during deep sleep, and you want to make sure it has everything it needs to heal and grow new tissue.  The problem is that most forms of protein are not well digested before bed.  A lot of protein powders, and even most animal protein sources are fairly digestion intensive, so they can leave you with a heavy feeling during the night.  They also take resources to digest that would be better used fueling your brain.

I recommend taking 1-2 tablespoons of hydrolyzed grass-fed collagen peptide before bed.  Hydrolyzing the proteins makes them more digestible, so they don’t cause the problems listed above. When hydrolysis is done right (with enzymes not acids), it doesn’t create MSG.

3. Enjoy the power of whey protein.

Upgraded Whey has some unique benefits in terms of sleep.  It’s easily digested, full of essential amino acids for repairing your body, and it contains bioactive milk peptides (BMPs).  BMPs are one of the most promising new supplements for improving sleep and reducing stress.  BMPs are actually sourced from whey protein, but they’re a lot more expensive after processing.  These proteins are most effective in their undenatured form.  Heating and pressurizing them actually reduces their effects, which is why I’ve always preferred to get BMPs from cold-processed whey protein concentrate rather than pill form.  The most effective whey protein I’ve tested for improving sleep is Upgraded Whey, which also has added bovine serum albumin to increase glutathione levels. More glutathione helps your liver remove toxins that interfere with sleep.

4. Try a tad of raw honey.

During the night, your brain uses a lot of energy.  One efficient form of brain energy comes from sugar stored in your liver, called liver glycogen.  Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting your muscle glycogen (stored sugar in your muscles), so having a little extra sugar before bed can help your brain function better at night.  Raw honey is preferentially used to stock liver glycogen, so it is used first for brain function.

Raw honey is 22% better at making liver glycogen than the cooked, conventional stuff you’re likely to find at the supermarket.  Taken without protein, a small amount of honey will raise blood glucose while you sleep too. I was skeptical of this trick when I first heard about it in The Honey Revolution, but I found it does work well as long as you don’t combine it with protein.

Especially when you’re doing BP Intermittent Fasting or eating very few carbs, you can  get more deep sleep when you take a small amount of raw honey.  At first I assumed that taking raw honey before bed would throw me out of fat burning mode, but as long as MCT oil was taken with the honey, enough ketones were produced to stay in fat burning mode. Take 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey before bed if it helps with your sleep.

5. Fuel up with low-mercury fish (or krill oil).

You’ve already learned how DHA can protect against the negative effects of fructose on brain function, but it can also help improve your sleep.  Omega-3s have been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression.  They also improve insulin sensitivity and muscle growth.  Consuming omega-3s before bed gives your brain the substrates it needs for growth and repair.

The best sources of omega-3s are Bulletproof foods like low-mercury fish and seafood.  These foods also provide the protein you need for muscle repair before bed.  However, I’ve found that krill oil gives me the best sleep.  I’ve experimented with various kinds of fish oil, and pretty much every other omega-3 supplement you can think of, and only krill oil has made a noticeable impact.  I recommend consuming your fish or Krill oil at least two hours before bedtime. Avoid flax oil and hempseed oil because they are high in omega 6 and low in DHA and EPA. They are not Bulletproof foods.

6. Enjoy your coffee…in the morning.

Bulletproof Coffee is magical stuff, but caffeine isn’t exactly the best sleep aid.  Drinking Bulletproof Coffee puts your mind into an amazing place where you become more productive and perform better.  However, you also need to let your mind rest after its high output performances.  In general, don’t drink coffee after 2:00 PM, or at least 8 hours before bedtime, which ever comes first.  This will make sure you get all of the cognitive benefits of caffeine without sacrificing your sleep. Some people need more than 8 hours of caffeine avoidance to sleep with maximum performance.

It strikes me as odd that most people don’t connect what they eat with how they sleep… but then again, biohackers like me strike people as odd when we add a half a stick of butter to our coffee.

It’s pretty simple. Some MCT oil before bed gives your brain the short chain fats is craves to function during the night.  Taking a few scoops of collagen protein mixed with whey protein gives you essential amino acids for repair, and bioactive milk peptides for calming your nervous system.  Raw honey stocks your liver glycogen so your brain has that little bit of extra fuel to help deep sleep.  Krill oil gives your neurons the fertilizer they need to function optimally.  Timing your coffee intake to the morning hours makes sure you keep your brain sharp when you need it, but still give it rest during the night.

Here’s what the entire protocol would look like:

  • 1-2 Tbs of MCT oil.
  • 1-2 Tbs of collagen protein.
  • OR
  • 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey.
  • 1 gram of krill oil.
  • 1 cup of Bulletproof Coffee (before 2:00PM, or at least 8 hours before bedtime.)

If you’re interested in more tips to supercharge your sleep, feel better, be healthier, and do more, sign up for the Bulletproof Toolbox using the link at the right. A sleep book is in the works too!  What sleep problems have you had?  What helps you maximize your sleep?

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By Dave Asprey

  • nthmostfit

    So, what is the advantage of honey over, say, agave nectar which would have a much higher percentage of fructose?

    • pantograph

      Fructose is toxic when consumed in more than small amounts. It contributes to fatty liver disease. Agave nectar, which is mostly fructose, is another one of those fake “healthy” foods, like whole grains. Check out Dr. Lustig’s lecture on YouTube.

      • nthmostfit


        Thing is, the following statement refers to the properties of fructose in refilling liver glycogen. (Why else do you think fructose has something to do with fatty liver disease.)

        “One efficient form of brain energy comes from sugar stored in your liver, called liver glycogen. Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting your muscle glycogen (stored sugar in your muscles), so having a little extra sugar before bed can help your brain function better at night. Raw honey is preferentially used to stock liver glycogen, so it is used first for brain function.”

        In the above statement, you could replace the phrase “raw honey” with the word “fructose” and come out with a far more scientifically true statement.

        So my question remains: if the magic of raw honey is its effects on liver glycogen, why not use agave nectar which is higher in fructose? (I’m asking to understand Dave’s thought process, not to promote some kind of agenda.)

        None of what I am saying is controversial, by the way… this is established and rather boring nutrition science. For example:

        • dhaiv

          I don’t think honey has nearly the amount of fructose as does agave nectar.

        • adam

          “if the magic of raw honey is its effects on liver glycogen, why not use agave nectar which is higher in fructose?”

          i have been wondering the same thing, what is specific to raw honey that improves sleep.

          & does it need to be a particular type of raw honey, they range from thick & light in color thru to dark and runny.

          i am not suggesting using agave nectar,

          but if the sleep benefits come from the fructose, then ‘normal’ (non raw) honey should work just as well?

          or may be the type of honey is more critical, ie. thick/light versus runny/dark.

      • Stan Staykoff

        Dr. Lustig is an idiot. Everyone in the science community laughs at him. There is no real evidence that fructose is anything less than healthy. Fructose doesn’t cause insulin spikes either. Stop believing every conspiracy you read about.

        • pantograph

          Stan, perhaps you can provide a link to a scientist rebutting Lustig’s position on fructose. Maybe he’s a conspiracy theorist, but Dr. Mercola agrees with Lustig:

        • Bob

          haha you honestly think Dr. Lustig is pushing some kind of conspiracy by warning people of the dangers of fructose? Wow. What kind of conspiracy could this even be? Get a grip kid. Oh no, watch out, an endocrinologist that has spent his life studying the affects of sugar might be conspiring to get you to not eating as much sugar!! Be careful!

          There are enough legitimate conspiracies in this world, we don’t need people like you throwing that word at everyone you disagree with out of ignorance of the topic. But then again, based on how you used it you obviously have no idea on the actual definition of it either. Ironic how you start your comment calling someone else an idiot…

        • Debra Snell

          RIght on in your response to Stan! Talk about who the idiot is!

  • James

    How many hours before bed can you take protein?

    • joey

      It depends on the digestion time of the protein. u want slow release before bed e.g casein or plant based

  • Victor Dorfman

    This might not be technically Bulletproof, but I’ve found a few slices of a hard raw milk cheese before bed help sleep as well. Maybe it’s the opiode compounds from dairy or another mechanism, but it works like a charm. :-)

  • Matt

    Why honey OR collagen+whey? Why not all 3 together?

    • Zack_Leman

      It would likely cause a larger insulin spike than desired. Insulin spikes before sleep mess with leptin signaling and other pathways.

      • Ben

        For whatever it’s worth, I’ve been trying the honey by itself and doing great, When I combined the honey with collagen it took me several hours to get to sleep.

        • Mark Bousquet

          This has happened to me as well.

    • Ben

      I second Matt’s question — what happens when you eat raw honey at night with protein, and why is that bad?

      • Daniel

        The protein and carbohydrates taken together “cancel” each others’ effect on insulin. Glycogen from protein nixes the insulin from the carbs. It’s the principle of The Zone diet. Can lead to low blood sugar during sleep and thus being hungry.

  • Aaron Lorch

    Dave, I have sleep apnea, due to a chronically inflamed/blocked sinus and nose. So I snore through my mouth instead. The salt water and then bulletproof coffee get me firing in the morning, but if I could get a good nights sleep, I’d be forever in your debt!

  • Jack117
  • JasonHooper

    Nice post! I am excited to get a hold of your sleep book.

    After watching one of your videos, I was left wondering why you were wearing sunglasses. I figured out that it was to protect yourself from the florescent lights, so I bought a cheap pair of safety glasses that block out 99% of blue light. I put them on two hours before bed (looking like a complete tool) and get a five to ten point increase to my ZQ. Cool nine dollar hack!

  • Jonathan

    “Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting your muscle glycogen (stored sugar in your muscles”

    This is wrong. Muscle glycogen is only available for use in the muscle.

  • Wogie

    Good stuff! I would really love if you could blog about vision hacking ! :)

  • d

    I personally find that eating some ice cream followed up with some decaf green tea works well at helping fall asleep.

  • Sam mcinnes

    Hey Dave,
    Was wondering if you could post what supplements you take and what they are for …. Been on the diet for a few weeks and I’m wanting to take this thing as far as it goes

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  • Donavan D.

    Dave, regarding point #2, all of your links for hydrolyzed grass-fed collagen peptide are dead. Can you please recommend another source?

    • enemee1982

      Donavan, I just got some from

    • Chris Wyllie

      Dave, will the MCT oil and Collagen/Whey combo inhibit the growth hormone and prolactin elevation, that also facilitates autophagy during sleep.

      How does this compare to simply consuming select AA to maximize growth hormone release. Optimal recovery is vital from HIIT exercise. Any concerns that WHEY will be too insulinogenic before bed?

      How about 2 tbsp of spirulina plus some wild alaskan sockeye salmon oil before bed, to give your body premium substrates before bed to fuel repair.

      Thanks for your fantastic work!

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  • Shotgun Mike

    A simple way I’ve found to get a better night’s rest is to stop eating for the day 12 hours before you want to wake up.

    It’s a bit of a bitch if you metabolise at the speed of light, but highly effective, and free.

  • HH

    The more I read the more this looks like a product-pushing website. I
    came here to read up on the mycotoxin free coffee and started reading
    other articles which had the appeal of a new-age, ground-breaking

    Now I’m starting to doubt that everything here. First
    it was the, at best, highly controversial Body By Science book. Now
    it’s Raw Honey before bed? Simple sugars before bed sounds like a great
    idea! Do it if you don’t want a deep sleep. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d like
    to know what people say.

    • Sven

      I doubted too. then I started trying this and then that. The coffee and the diet both had almost immediate positive effects I am nearly two months in and feeling very good. My main complaint is that I often fall asleep too early now, but I always feel rested when I wake.

  • Mark Joyner

    Dave, you mentioned the effect of raw honey on the Intermittent Fast, but what about the effect of collagen or whey? I just started experimenting with BP Intermittent Fasting.

  • Uros

    Is Pink Sun grass fed whey okay?

  • Nat

    Hi Dave,
    Love your stuff. As a health care professional myself I am always looking for good info that is based on research. This is one of the reasons I love your information.

    In regard to sleep issues, personally I have noticed that my sleep was strongly affected by the chemicals I had eaten
    (inadvertently) with my evening meal. So by being very aware and eliminating the chemicals that came in even home made stir fry (oyster sauce has lots of additives), I noticed a big difference.

    Laying awake for hours is no longer a problem and I have all the benefits of being chemical free!

    Thanks again for all your work. Keep going!!!

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  • commalove

    Dave … the MCT oil makes my throat feel, for want of a better word, yucky. What’s the best way to take it before bedtime? Should I drink it straight, or maybe even put it in a little decaf tea or coffee?

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  • bunka1

    Dave. What about Xymogen I5? it is a blend of pea protein isolate.

  • Samanero

    Is it okay to use Raw honey with your Bulletproof coffee in the morning?

    • Garrett K

      I’d advise against it. BPC is specifically formulated to keep you in Ketosis state, giving your body only fat as its fuel source. Honey is a carb source, and my feeling is that it won’t play nicely with the fat in the MCT & Grass fed Butter.

  • adam

    is there anything specific to Raw honey that improves sleep.
    & does it need to be a particular type of raw honey, they range from thick & light in color thru to dark and runny.

    just wondering, if the sleep benefits come from the fructose, then ‘normal’ (non raw) honey should work just as well?

    or may be the type of honey is more critical, ie. thick versus runny.

  • Jeff

    Try drinking a little bit of unfiltered cranberry juice before bed. I always have fantastic dreams and feel that I get a deeper sleep when I drink it. They sell a good one at Trader Joes.

  • Ollie Pople

    I’ve tried raw honey and mct oil before bed several times now with great results. I usually wake up and go to the toilet 2-4 times a night, but with this protocol I just sleep the full 8 hours!

  • cat nagle

    Dave, I am confused. You state above that honey works well as long as not mixed with protein, but then you later say to use the honey and the protein. Also your talking about sleep but you have added coffee to the entire protocol. Am I to understand it as take all but coffee before bed? Take all during day 8 hours or more before bed. My question is what do I take only before bed to sleep optimally.? Thank you. I enjoyed your talk at Longevity Now Conference yesterday. Cat Nagle

  • Curious reader

    This is wrong, at least for me – if I have fat before sleep, that is probably the best way to have a white night … (or at least 2-3 hours) But I might be different – each Friday is for me a complete fasting day (I’m orthodox) and while other people complain having sleep issues after such a day, for me it’s the other way – each Friday night I have the best sleep…

  • remi

    fish oils before bed usually gives me a good nights sleep

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  • kate

    I´m on paleo diet, and do intermittent fasting, I count aprox.daily calorie intake – d I have to count 1tsp honey+MCT oil to my daily calories?? /I have my fasting window from 5.00PM until 9.00 AM, so oil and honey is in the middle of it/

    • phantasm

      You can take the oil, as it will not spike your insulin.
      A little insulin spike from the honey can help put you to sleep though.
      You can also try a small spoon of almond butter. Neither of these will affect the IF.
      Side note, Dave (and cohorts) don’t recommend women to do IF, but if it’s working for you, go for it.

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  • jperry6785

    What about taking collagen protein and raw honey together before bed? I seem to see conflicting information on this- in a recent email, Dave says to take chamomile, honey, and collagen before bed- but in this article he says it should be taken without protein.
    Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Mayank Gupta

    Sleepless might lead you to over weight or obesity. So foods like banana, Walnuts, Almonds, Dairy products, Honey, whole grains, fish & oatmeal are good for getting sleep. I got this valuable information from online dietitian at EVAIDYA.

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  • Arsala

    How to get a good sleep at night .

  • David

    Could you let me know the allergy information of the facility that the upgraded collagen is produced in? I have a few allergies (gluten and nuts) that I must avoid.

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