Concocting dreams

Frog, Kermit, Cookie, Nibble, Hunger

Image: Pixabay

You have to do a lot of unusual things as a carer. Almost as many unusual things as when you are a parent. In neither role, though, do you expect to be required to supply your son with mind-altering substances, yet that is exactly what I have been tasked with doing this week.

One of the hidden side effects of a brain injury such as that suffered by my son, is an over-sensitivity to stimulants of any kind. A single cup of instant coffee can have the same effect on him as a quadruple espresso would have on me and the same holds true of other substances that most of us would find innocuous. Including chocolate.

No, I am not talking about the expansion of waistlines… that would definitely be me who suffered the greatest effect there. Sadly, he did not inherit his metabolic talents from the maternal line and to test his theory I would have to eat so much of the stuff that my diet would consist largely of chocolate. But he has found a surprising benefit of consuming the stuff.

My son has a preference for very dark chocolate, the stuff with eighty-five per cent cocoa solids, and he started to have a small piece at night before bed. He noticed that, when he did so, his sleep was unusually deep and his dreams vivid and lifelike. Finding that odd, he experimented and took note. There was definitely a correlation between the amount of chocolate he consumed and the depth of sleep and dream.

It is not all that surprising, considering his sensitivity to stimulants. As far back as five thousand years ago, the Olmecs, Maya and pre-Columbian civilisations of the Yucatán were using cacao in spiritual ceremonies. You have to wonder about their sensitivity too and whether they also experienced enhanced dream states. Perhaps my son had stumbled on something older than he could imagine.

There are any number of studies and opinions on the health benefits of the cacao bean and it has long been a tradition to drink a cup of hot cocoa before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep. The amount of cacao in that beverage made with milk, though, is not huge and perhaps it is the milk that does the trick. Except, apparently, for my son.

“Do you think you could make me some dreamcakes?” he asked, after a particularly interesting foray into dreamland. I had momentary visions of being obliged to concoct something illegal. “With the raw cacao…” That sounded safer. He has these horrid, bitter cacao nibs that reek of vinegar rather than smelling of chocolate. They are hard to eat and not particularly pleasant either… but shoved through the blender and reduced to finer fragments, I thought I could come up with something.

You can’t cook raw cacao and expect it to retain its properties…especially seeing as how we don’t know what properties are causing the effects. That made baking cakes a bit awkward. I rummaged through the kitchen and fell back on a variant of good, old-fashioned ‘cornflake buns’.

A handful of dried strawberries, a spoonful of the good manuka honey and a small heap of the raw cacao were mixed with as many of his fancy breakfast cereal clusters as the bar of darkest, melted chocolate would absorb. Dollops of the gooey stuff were allowed to set in the fridge. He sampled one and pronounced it worthy. But gastronomic pleasure was not the point and I awaited the results next morning.

“How were the ‘dreamcakes’?”

“You’ll have to make some more…”

I’ll take that as approval, then.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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62 Responses to Concocting dreams

  1. Ritu says:

    I like the idea of dreamcakes!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Léa says:

    I can empathize. When it is our children… My best to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is very interesting. I can suffer from insomnia on occasion so, out of interest, I started using a sleep measurement App on my IPhone, and it, obviously, measured the depth of my sleep or periods of wakefulness during the night. Very interesting, but it didn’t really help in a practical way. Still, I thought I’d mention it !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hm, I’m tempted to do a study now on chocolate before bed. And I’ve got permission… “But hubby, Sue said chocolate before bed could make me have more vivid dreams!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Victo Dolore says:

    Now that is a fascinating observation. Makes one wonder…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m intrigued…might need to try that 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad you qualified that ‘next morning’ comment. I was on a whole different train off thought. 😬

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an interesting blog post! It sounds like your son is very introspective as to what is going on with himself. You two must have a great relationship. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my goodness, Sue, the things we must do for the sons of ours.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mary Smith says:

    I love the sound of ‘dreamcakes’ – must try your recipe. Does Nick record his dreams?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      They don’t taste half bad 😉

      Not these days, though he has recorded the ones he recalls from when he was in the coma…very strange and ‘conscious’ dreams from someone being kept in life by machines at the time. They seemed to refelct an awareness that should not have been possible of his surroundings, the people who were with him and his circumstances.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Lyn Horner says:

    I have insomnia from time to time and, strangely, if I consume a cup of coffee and a chocolate covered granola bar, it soon allows me sleep. I asked a doctor about this and he said sometimes a stimulant actually can counteract the brain chemical (I can’t recall which one) that keeps me awake. It seems contradictory but it works. Now I’m going to try a cup of hot chocolate before bedtime.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So interesting…seems like the notion that some meds can act as stimulant or sedative, depending on the recipient. I’d assume chocolate at bedtime would keep me awake…maybe not. Thanks, Sue.
    And good on you for whipping up that batch for your son !

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Marcia says:

    Very interesting, Sue. I’m extremely sensitive to caffeine, and chocolate has it. If I drank a cup of hot cocoa at bedtime, I wouldn’t dream that night at all, because I wouldn’t SLEEP that night. I can’t have tea or chocolate after midday, or it will definitely keep me up at night. And coffee is pretty much out of the question all the time. Funny, how we each react so differently to stimulants, isn’t it. I cheated this morning and had a cup of strong black tea with tiny chocolate chips in it, but I cut my other (usual) 2 cups of tea, so that it was all I had before my noon deadline. It was delicious, but the one cup was as powerful as three of Earl Grey. Done! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Caffeine would have to come by the bucketload to get to me, Marcia… it has little effect. I can’t imagine life without coffee though!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Marcia says:

        If I drink a cup of coffee, my heart races so fast, you can see it beating under my shirt. It was a long, long time before I could drink more than one cup of tea. Now I allow myself three, but only between 7:30am and noon. After that, it’s no more caffeine in any form, even chocolate. *sniff* I would love a nice bowl of Rocky Road ice cream at night now and then, but nooooo. *two sniffs* 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I love a bit of dark chocolate. I will have to see what it does to my sleep next time I have some. Mind you I already have some very weird and vivid dreams due to my medication I think! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Interesting…

    Also, they sound pretty tasty in general, which is an added bonus for him, I’m sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. C.E.Robinson says:

    Sue, this is very interesting. I looked up the benefits of dark chocolate for sleep and found the following. Of course more research is needed. But…if it helps Nick, that’s enough evidence! 💛 Christine

    Dark Chocolate May Help You Sleep Better At Night, New Research Suggests
    16 April 2016. By Jereal Cawis Tech Times

    Some people rely on sleeping pills whenever they cannot sleep at night, not knowing that there is a better way to get their minds and bodies at rest — eating dark chocolates. A study, spearheaded by Dr Gerben Van Ooijen from the school of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, revealed that a vital nutrient found in dark chocolates can help a person sleep better at night. Magnesium, present in many foods such as dark chocolate, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, helps cells to cope in the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm or internal clock is the one responsible for the different bodily functions such as sleeping, waking and temperature.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Eliza Waters says:

    Sounds wonderful! However, I find chocolate to be a stimulant, not a sedative. Maybe I’ll have them for breakfast…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Informative and moving Sue.
    Best wishes to you both
    Roger

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jennie says:

    This is quite interesting. I had always thought of chocolate as a stimulant and a way to stay awake. How wrong I was. Thank you for a terrific story- the writing had me glued.

    Liked by 1 person

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