Nature works as one harmonious system. If you zoom out to the scale of the cosmic foodshed we see our astrobiological system translating universal order into cyclical sequences of terrestrial events. These natural events meet with human knowledge and intuition to create either a barren, or abundant and nutritious food supply. Picture in your mind’s eye the growing of food across various terroirs, sets of environmental factors and farming practices that affect crop and livestock phenotypes, yields and nutrition. Humans harvest and process these foods, now ingredients, charging them with intentional creative vibrations that imprint the end product with vibrational energies that can have real nutritive healing function when consumed with respect for this entire cosmic foodshed, and an understanding of that specific food’s function in one’s unique biome.
For example, earth’s biosphere is subject to warmer sunny days and cooler dark nights, reminding me of a prime example of the natural harmony of the system described above: night milk! Milk in it’s many forms is a storied dream food (I even have a loose theory about how the emotional nature of dreams corresponds to cheese eaten before bed based on the one variable of its fermentation). The following excerpt is from an article a family member sent me from the Wall Street Journal titled, “Got Night Milk? A Possible Treatment for Anxiety and Insomnia.”
“Researchers in South Korea gave lab mice varying doses of dried milk powder made from cow’s milk collected during the day or night… Analysis of the powders showed the night milk [collected at night] contained 24% more tryptophan [a sleep-inducing compound] and nearly 10 times as much melatonin [a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle] as day milk.”
These mice experienced similar effects to mice injected with diazepam (Valium — in the name of science…). While there has not yet been a controlled night milk experiment on humans, I’ve personally drank night milk from a local Colorado dairy farm with relaxing results. Here we see the sacred nature of food flowing from the stars through plants and animals, and finally, through our human bodies to realize a specific physiological function. Food is spiritual, folks!
[Note: I am not a PhD sleep researcher or registered dietician; however, I am an aspiring gentleman scientist who studied chemistry and environmental sciences in high school and college, became a farm-to-table chef, and have throughout those years experienced and noted the impact of ingesting certain foods and plants on my active dream practice. These are my thoughts on how the foods we eat impact sleep and dreams, and the onus for creating the Dream Bar. Please know that I return to this particular article to amend it from time to time.]
With Eat Dream Be we’ve sought to create harmonious end products with a certain positive energy that we’ve observed elsewhere in our work with food. Paul and I spent much time working in restaurants where the primary benefit of dining is often to behold creative vision on a plate in organic medium, or the thought provoking uniqueness of synchronistic preparations and ingredient choices. So, for years we hand selected and researched the foods that relaxed us before bed, didn’t disrupt sleep, and lead to active insightful dreams. We then began infusing the ingredients with complementary herbal flavors. The nervine herbs increased the effectiveness of the dream foods, and also imprinted the bars with the energies of their unique plant spirits: Chamomile, Lavender and Lemon Balm.
A belief formed that ingesting a strong regimen of supplements was not in our best interest, but rather, increasing the frequency with which we eat food rich in certain nutrients naturally strengthened the biological systems associated with sleep and dreams. These systems are very delicate (you might be aware of the current worldwide insomnia epidemic), and naturally cyclical based on the amount of light streaming in our eyeballs and nutrient availability in our gut biomes. For example, to strengthen the whole serotonergic system, you should be ingesting foods naturally containing precursor molecules, not peaking and troughing bioavailability of these nutrients with irregular large dose supplementation. For example, melatonin is a hormone that is widely supplemented in pill form, but is naturally made in healthy amounts as the sun sets, and may be increased by eating foods containing tryptophan, calcium and vitamin B6. We believe these larger doses throw the serotonergic system out of equilibrium and can even do damage. 1 in 10 folks taking melatonin supplements regularly report the opposite of expected effects, wakefulness and anxiety. We should not undermine or overpower our sleep-wake system, but support its natural functions — as in organic farming, a biome adapts to, and is a reflection of what it’s fed.
The National Sleep Foundation reports only 44% of Americans get a good night’s sleep almost every night (and similar numbers from around the globe). We are in the middle of a global sleep epidemic, why not try to change variables that you have complete control over? Try to avoid foods that are spicy, heavily fermented, too sweet, or too salty as they may create imbalances that cause wakefulness and poor sleep quality. Instead choose bedtime snack foods naturally high in tryptophan, melatonin, choline, magnesium or potassium. Remember plants are our allies, and that nervine herbs in particular are great for calming anxiety (chamomile, lemon balm) and relieving insomnia (lavender, passionflower). As they get stronger (valerian, mugwort) they are very powerful sleep and dream influencers. Hold a bedtime tea ceremony, or drop herbal tincture along with your nightly pre-bed ritual.
Without getting too scientifically dry about the biochemical ripple of eating a Dream Bar, let’s zoom in on the basics. It’s estimated that 90% of our neurotransmitters are produced in our gastrointestinal tract, our “gut,” and are unique person-to-person. The digestive process allows for the natural production of complex molecules like neurotransmitters, of which nutrient-rich food sources supply the building blocks. Our Dream Bars were created to serve two functions: to help induce deep, restful sleep, and increase the amount of time spent in REM: the sleep cycle where we most likely find ourselves dreaming. The dream food ingredients selected for our first three Dream Bar experiences, Apple Chamomile, Banana Lavender and Tart Cherry Lemon Balm, are rich in nutrients encouraging good conditions for the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters Acetylcholine and Serotonin, and the pineal hormone Melatonin. These beautiful brain chemicals encourage clearer memory, uplifted mood, better cognition, healthy circadian rhythm and regular sleep cycling.
Many of the foods we selected to contain trace amounts of tryptophan, which is known to induce sleepiness, and is also the amino acid building block of serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin, the mood molecule, is created from tryptophan with the aid of vitamin B6 and calcium. It’s enzymatic descendent, melatonin, aids sleep onset and acts as the switch disconnecting the dreaming brain from the rest of the body (a characteristic of REM sleep is physical immobility). Tryptophan-rich ingredients in our Dream Bars include nuts and seeds, honey, oats and bananas.
Others dream foods contain choline. Consuming foods rich in this precursor to neurotransmitter acetylcholine may solidify memory, support learning and calm the mind. This neurotransmitter system is responsible for the body’s “rest-and-digest” function, is a key contributor to metabolic functions, and has been found to influence the amount of time we spend in the REM cycle of sleep. Choline is found naturally in foods that contain certain types of fats: meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, soybeans and even cocoa! A recognized member of the B vitamin family, choline as a dietary supplement is often linked to cognitive performance (found in top nootropics). It’s an essential nutrient for brain development and function, as much of our brain and nervous system’s mass is made up of these fats. A majority of the human population is choline-deficient, and this deficiency perpetuates age-related cognitive decline, ADD, ADHD and Alzheimer’s in modern society. Let’s spread the word together about healthy fats and their positive effects on cognition, our very consciousness.
With respect to the systems discussed above, we formulated our bars to energetically ground your intention to achieve restful sleep and dream practice. We are mindful of the foodshed involved in bringing Dream Bars to your doorstep and chose to certify our products organic this year with CCOF. As far as diets go, we are certified gluten-free by GIG, and self proclaimed, beegan (dairy-free, honey sweetened). We believe in our hearts that the best way to protect the bees is to financially support sustainable apiarists. Their low-glycemic nectar prevents rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels that disrupt healthy sleep cycles, and naturally contains Tryptophan. Honey also tells the brain to shut off orexin, a brain chemical known to trigger alertness. We’re always available to talk about why Dream Bars may or not be a great way to manifest restful sleep and active dreaming in your life.
Please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments on our formulation, and keep an eye out for our new look and some changes in recipe coming this Spring 2017!