Have you ever heard of the bed time myth ‘Avoid cheese before bed as it gives you nightmares‘? We have and we wondered, is there actually any evidence behind it? In our search we came across a rather interesting study from The British Cheese Board (it actually exists!) and thought you’d like to know the results…
No, Cheese Doesn’t Give You Nightmares
The first finding of the study was that no, eating cheese before bed doesn’t increase your risk of having nightmares.
The team tested this by giving 100 male and 100 female participants 20 grams of cheese half an hour before they went to bed.
Over the course of a week each participant was assigned to one of six types of British cheese – Stilton, Cheddar, Red Leicester, British Brie, Lancashire and Cheshire.
The participants were asked to record everything they remembered about their dreams and how well they slept as soon as they woke up the next morning.
Interestingly, 67% of the participants remembered their dreams, but not a single one could remember having a nightmare. The scientists believed that this was likely to have been caused by the presence of tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in milk which is helpful in normalising sleep and reducing stress levels.
Different cheeses gave people different types of dreams
Those who ate Stilton before bed experienced crazy, vivid dreams including “talking soft toys, a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children, dinner party guests being traded for camels, soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns, and a party in a lunatic asylum”!
Red Leicester was the perfect cheese for ensuring participants had a great night’s sleep. 83% of participants reported that every night after a bit of Red Leicester was a good experience. And also a nostalgic one – 60% of the Red Leicester participants reported dreaming about fond memories of their childhood.
Interestingly cheddar cheese gave people dreams about celebrities.
Over half of all nights slept by people eating crumbly Cheshire cheese were dreamless.
So it seems that cheese doesn’t give really you nightmares. The type of cheese you eat before bedtime does help determine the nature and content of your dreams though. If you’d like to have a dream about your favourite soap star or actor, we’d recommend a big slice of cheddar or if you fancy a more elaborate dream, choose Stilton!
Sources: The British Cheese Board, NPR