Does Eating Cheese Before Bed Give You Nightmares?

4 min read

Last Modified 8 July 2022 First Added 28 October 2014

By Laura Barns

Have you ever had a poor night’s sleep after eating cheese late at night? Is the cheese actually to blame? Or do we naturally associate cheese with nightmares because that’s what our parents told us? Here at the Sleep Matters Club, we’re digging into the truth. As we’ve started to investigate, it seems there is a connection between cheese, dreams, and nightmares. Here’s everything that we have found about the effects of eating cheese before bed…

Does cheese give you nightmares?

In 2005 The British Cheese Board carried out a study in which a number of people were given a 3-ounce piece of cheese to eat just before bedtime. Different people were given different types of cheese and a report was then taken to record the dreams and nightmares of all the participants to detect any patterns.

Overall, the good news for the Cheese Board was that an impressive 75% of the participants said they slept pretty well each night, with no occurrence of nightmares. Additionally, most of them said that they could clearly remember their dreams. This led to the conclusion that the essential amino acid in milk, and therefore cheese – tryptophan – was having an effect on the cheese eaters by stabilising their sleep patterns and reducing stress levels.

So does eating cheese before bedtime give you nightmares? No, it doesn’t. Well at least according to research by The British Cheese Board. What it does seem to do though is produce a whole variety of different dreams that all seem to be fairly memorable. This means if you’re one of those people who like to dream and really want to dream more often, then cheese for supper might just do the trick.

What happens if you eat cheese before bed?

Now we have established eating cheese before bed won’t give you nightmares, let’s discuss what it will do. Strangely enough, different cheeses eaten in the study resulted in different types of dreams. These aren’t technically nightmares. However, if you don’t like the idea of dreaming about Coronation Street or going to work, it could very well be someone’s nightmare.

Cheddar cheese tended to produce dreams about celebrities, including sitting in a pub with Katie Price and playing football with Paul Gascoigne. Cast members from popular soaps like Coronation Street and Emmerdale also made appearances in cheddar-induced dreams.

Red Leicester caused nostalgic dreams often related to childhood, whilst Lancashire cheese produced dreams about work, which could arguably be termed a nightmare for some people.

Stilton cheese produced the most vivid, unusual and downright strange dreams. These included talking soft toys, lifts that move sideways and soldiers fighting each other with kittens instead of guns. Not nightmares, but certainly very off-the-wall dreams. Stilton could be a great choice if you work in a creative environment and require some story fuel.

Of all the cheeses eaten, Cheshire cheese led to a peaceful night’s sleep without any dreams at all. So, if you want a peaceful night’s sleep with no interruptions, this is the cheese for you.

How can cheese help you sleep?

Cheese contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is required for growing, and helping your body produce and maintain proteins, muscles, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. So, what’s this got to do with sleep? Well, tryptophan is used by your body to produce serotonin, (the hormone that makes you feel happy) which has a significant impact on sleep. A study found that “tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in humans”.  Next time you need help falling asleep, who knows, maybe the tryptophan in cheese will aid your slumber.

Summary

To summarise, no, cheese does not give you nightmares. But now we know the cheese that does have some interesting side effects while we sleep. If you’re interested in learning more about The British Cheese Board study, read more here… Let’s Talk About That Cheese and Dreams Experiment.

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