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VOL. 40 | NO. 27 | Friday, July 1, 2016

PB&J before bed may calm nightmares

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I have mentioned in a few of my past articles that I don’t dream very much. Or, if I do, I don’t often remember them.

It is very rare that I wake up and remember dreaming, but it is different with hubby. When he wakes up and I ask how he slept, he will tell me if he dreamed or not. If not, he didn’t sleep well.

Well one night last week my night was entirely different. In fact, at 2:30 a.m. a dream awakened me in a state of fright. I guess it was more of a nightmare.

This nightmare was so funny once I awoke and started thinking about it. I was dreaming my life was close to being “frosted” (I think that is an old mob term for wiped out, but in this recipe column it works perfectly) by – wait for it – a cookbook.

I know you are thinking “what in the world?” because that is exactly what I woke up thinking. What in the world was THAT about?

Hubby and I purchased two recliners not long ago to see if we liked them. In my dream, I was sitting in the reclined position of one of these recliners and was unable to get up, kind of like I was tied down but there were no ropes that I could see and my arms were free.

I was squirming and fidgeting because this cookbook, one with a hardback cover, was flying through the air trying to kill me. It kept aiming for my throat, but thank goodness I was always able to catch it and send it flying back in the other direction.

It was like a boomeranging flying killer cookbook.

Researchers say that if you are having a dream in which your life is in danger, then you wake up before it can be snuffed out. They were right this time, and I sure am glad.

It would be a tragic headline for sure: Food columnist dies from flying killer cookbook.

It has been proven that if you have watched a scary show before you go to bed, you might have nightmares in which you are in danger. But unless you count Jessica Fletchers’ Murder She Wrote as scary, then that’s not the case.

Cedar-grilled Herbed Salmon

1 lb. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 Cedar Grilling plank

Prepare grilling plank as directed. Prepare grill to medium high heat. Place salmon, skin side down, on plank and season with salt and pepper. In small bowl, combine the olive oil, chives, parsley and garlic together. Generously coat salmon and place on grill. Cover and grill 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Brush with a bit more of the oil mixture and remove from grill. Serve with a squirt of fresh lemon and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Also, I know what you eat can cause scary dreams. I can’t remember what I had for dinner that evening, so maybe that was the reason. Whatever the case, it was strange.

I checked all of my cookbooks the next morning, and all were still in their regular place, so at least it wasn’t one of mine trying to wipe me out. Had I found one out of place, it would have been trashed asap.

So anyway, I checked the great WWW for food and dream associations. Wow! A person could read for a week and still not have a clearer picture. This is a pretty big topic and so far nothing is conclusive. But, there are a lot of stories.

Dr. Gary Wenk, author of Your Brain on Food, offered several theories between foods and dreaming. However, according to Dr. Wenk, if asked the question, “Is what I ate for dinner tonight going to influence my dreams?” the answer is almost universally going to be “no.”

He had several different reasons for this and that, and I don’t have the room to talk about all of it, but he did have one I liked the best: eating a PB&J before bedtime.

“A dreaming brain is a hungry brain. Sleep is a very active process and your brain needs a lot of sugar. I actually recommend to people that they have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before they go to bed: The bread and the jelly are great sources of simple carbohydrates, which are terrible usually, but great for sleep,” Wenk states.

“The theory here: Not only will you supply energy to the busy brain, but you’re also providing it with extra serotonin – the “calming” hormone – to help usher in the onset of sleep.”

Other foods that might influence your dreams are foods with tryptophan, a serotonin-producing amino acid that helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and moods. A few examples are chicken, soybeans, turkey, tuna, salmon and halibut.

The recipe is one with a salmon that I grilled, so if you want to stick to getting your tryptophan that way, this is a great recipe. Still, I like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich theory best. I love PB&J’s!

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.

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