Somehow, my little one is almost nine months old. How has this happened? My son’s first year seemed to go by so slowly but the second time around, our family (and my work)  just kept moving and the days feel like sand running through my fingers.

The lack of sleep probably doesn’t help either. A few weeks ago, after a brutal night where my daughter woke up no fewer than six (!!!) times, I blurted out, ‘we have to do something about this’. If you’re wondering…the ‘do something’ involved removing the milk-fueled incentive for waking up…and after a couple more brutal nights, it worked. But something unexpected happened: I started having trouble falling asleep!

Typically, my exhausted body crashes as soon as my head hits the pillow. Now, it would appear that my body is so disoriented by getting more than 90 minute stretches of sleep that it didn’t know what to do at my normal bedtime.

The remedy? I turned to my old standby, magnesium. Magnesium is a often ignored mineral that helps to relax the muscles and is commonly used in the natural world to help you drift off to sleep. Very few clinical trials have examined this use but I did manage to find one that showed magnesium’s ability to improve insomnia in the elderly.

From a functional perspective, an increase in magnesium levels is associated with the natural sleep cycle and magnesium is often recommended to soothe nighttime leg cramps although the research on this is inconclusive. I tried it for the first time a few years ago during a sleepless phase because magnesium is safe to use (although it can loosen up the bowels a bit), so I thought it was worth a shot. It worked like a hot damn. So whenever sleep alludes me, it’s the first place I turn.

Wait…I just realized I promised you a recipe! The whole magnesium thing is related, I promise!

A couple of months ago, in a fit of inspiration, I thought it would be fun to create some functional recipes…the first focused on sleep because, well, I wasn’t sleeping much. I started looking around for ingredients associated with better sleep and relaxation so I could create a healthier bedtime snack.

These lovely, softly scented cookies contain:

Rose and Lavender

Soothing botanicals whose scents have been traditionally used to improve sleep (there is also a tiny bit of evidence to suggest benefit too…go to pubmed.org to view)

Banana and Oat

Rich in muscle relaxing potassium and magnesium, bananas and oats are also a natural source of melatonin to help you drift off. The carbohydrates in bananas and oats also help make sleep-inducing tryptophan more available to the brain.

Almond

These nuts make the cut for their potassium and magnesium content, in addition to adding some healthy fats and protein to keep blood sugars from spiking.

Nighttime snacking is usually fraught with junk food overload. But it doesn’t have to be. Ditch the sugary stuff and the deep fried everything and choose a healthier snack instead. Fruit and veggies will always be my first choice but if you want something a little different, a couple of these lovely cookies and a cup of uncaffeinated tea should do the trick.

Bedtime Bites

Super soothing snack before bed to help you sleep!
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Ingredients

  • 2 bags lavendar tea
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup oats, (regular or pure, gluten free)
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 tablespoon cacao nib, (magnesium rich, but a tiny bit of caffeine...if you're sensitive, skip this or swap for tart cherries!)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon rose water

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Brew the tea bags in 1/3 cup boiling water for 10 minutes to make a strong tea. Place oats in a mixing bowl and pour tea over oats. Stir in coconut oil and let oats soak for 30 minutes - most of the water will be absorbed.
  • Mash the banana in a small bowl and add to the oats, along with rose water and maple syrup.
  • Mix in almond meal and cacao nibs. The dough will be a bit wet but should hold together. Add a bit more almond meal if not.
  • Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Bottoms should look caramelized. Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely. Store in a loosely covered container lined with paper towel. Enjoy within 3 days or freeze.

Nighty night!!

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz