Posted on: May 27, 2016 at 9:19 am
Last updated: November 18, 2020 at 12:38 pm

Have you ever woken up suddenly—only to see a glowing alarm clock reading 3:00 in the morning—and couldn’t fall back to sleep?


(And then that that annoying Matchbox 20 song pops into your head, too? Ugh.)

If so, you’re not alone. 42% of Americans reported waking up in the middle of the night, with 29% finding it difficult to fall back asleep, according to a research study done by the National Sleep Foundation. That’s the reason why there’s even special prescription drugs out there now that aren’t just sleep aids, but getting-back-to-sleep-aids. So many people struggle with this and don’t know how to fall back asleep.


Of course, I’m not exactly a big advocate for pharmaceutical drugs. Especially when there are natural remedies that work better, and without a paragraph of scary side effects attached to the label. This remedy is a lifesaver for those suffering from insomnia—which is not just the inability to fall asleep, but the inability to stay asleep, too.

Why you’re waking up

There’s a reason why your eyes snap open at 3 am—you’re stressed! I mean literally, you’re having a biochemical reaction to excessive amounts of stress hormones floating throughout your poor body that’s trying to sleep.

In a healthy body with a healthy metabolism, hormone levels cycle moderately through highs and lows throughout the 24 hour cycle—what’s known as your circadian rhythms. When you have a stressed metabolism, natural peaks of stress hormone levels spike to abnormal highs, initiating a stress response. When this happens at night, it seriously disrupts sleep patterns, and often causes you to wake up—often leaving you so wired up that you’re unable to fall back asleep.

What’s the solution? Believe it or not, something as simple as a hit of sugar and salt can send those stress hormones packing, and get you back on track to a better night’s sleep.


Independent health researcher, Matt Stone, explains how this works in his book, Eat for Heat:

“The salt and sugar mixture is an absolute must for nighttime stress events. For wakeups between 2-4 am, accompanied by a feeling of excess adrenaline circulating through your system (adrenaline peaks at this time), salt and sugar under the tongue is the only way to go.

You don’t want to be chewing anything, wandering around the house looking for food, opening the fridge and looking at bright lights when hoping to fall back asleep, and so forth. You want to remain as unstimulated as possible. Keep the sugar/salt mixture by the bedside for easy and thoughtless access until you stop having middle-of-the-night wakeups.”

Sugar and Salt? Are you nuts?!

Despite all the vilifying of both these substances within the mainstream and alternative nutrition establishments, sugar and salt are undeniably critical nutrients. Everyone knows you can’t live without some amount of sodium and glucose (that would be sugar) in your body.

But what many people are still in the dark about is the fact that both of these nutrients are critical in managing a healthy metabolism. These are nutrients which keep your stress hormones in check, and allow your cells to do their job, which is to take in fuel and produce energy. That’s what metabolism actually is—how well your cells are able to generate energy for your body to function optimally.

Sugar and salt act as “batteries” for the cells—glucose provides direct fuel to the mitochondria while a balance of sodium in the intercellular fluids allows for proper cellular respiration and energy production.

But both nutrients are also powerful nutritional tools in managing stress—sugar signals the body to shut down the production of the stress hormones which are putting a serious damper on your metabolism, and keeping you awake at night. Salt also is critical in maintaining a homeostatic state in which adrenaline does not spike out of control.

So, if you can think of using both of these nutrients as therapeutic tools to manage stress events due to a lowered metabolic state, they really shouldn’t seem all that scary anymore.

And no, sugar does not cause hyperactivity. That’s a complete myth. (Google it.) When used as a therapeutic nutritional tool in this way, it has precisely the opposite effect.

The therapy as I use it, inspired by Matt’s advice in Eat for Heat, is taking a small amount of a sugar and salt mixture straight up—like medicine—under the tongue, whenever my sleep is compromised. It’s my special “sleepy dust!”

Both my husband and I have tried this, and did it regularly for a while, and it worked like an absolute charm. But, we no longer have much of a need for it now. We’re both sleeping through the night without issues. Try it out and you’ll see just how quickly it can snap your body out of a hyped-up, adrenaline-filled wired state of mind, into sweet, dreamy sleep!

How to Make Sleepy Dust


  • 5 Tablespoons organic cane sugar (I like this kind as it’s not bleached or heavily refined, and is fair-trade)
  • 1 Tablespoon sucanat/rapadura (this is completely unrefined sugar cane juice, with all minerals intact)
  • 2 teaspoons real sea salt


  1. Put the mixture in a baggie or a small container, and shake well. The sucanat has a tendency to separate from the rest, which is why you can’t use only sucanat and salt—the salt sinks to the bottom and doesn’t “stick” with the sucanat granules. But it does add a nice flavor, and a little boost of minerals, too!Note: You can add more salt, if you can handle it. Matt recommends a 1:5 salt-to-sugar ratio, but I find that that’s too much salt for me. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Now, keep this handy by your bed where you can easily reach it in the middle of the night. You can use it before you go to bed to de-stress and get ready for sleep, and when you wake up in the night.

To use it, just keep a small spoon nearby and scoop a tiny bit out, then let it dissolve under your tongue, to get it straight into your bloodstream. You really only need a small pinch. I’ve even skipped the spoon and just stuck a wet finger into my little sleepy dust container and licked it off, and that works, too. Puts you back to sleep in no time!

Maria Sykes
Team Writer
Marie Sykes is an Ontario based writer with a background in research and a love for holistic wellness. She's especially interested in boosting awareness for women's health issues. Once a shunner of gyms, Marie has found an appreciation for weight training and HIIT circuits. She enjoys trying cuisine from all over the world, and she also enjoys not caring two cents what other people think her body should look like.

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