Let’s Talk About That Cheese and Dreams Experiment
4 min read
Last Modified 15 September 2023 First Added 6 December 2016
You’ve likely heard the old wives’ tale about cheese fuelling nightmares or even just increasing your chances of bizarre and vivid dreams. Cheese and dreams is a topic that has intrigued most cheese-connoisseurs and sleep specialists, and it’s therefore something we’ve explored quite a few times. But does eating a hefty amount of cheese before bed actually have any effect on your sleep? And how reliable is the evidence behind this?
A team called The British Cheese Board, no joke, have conducted some studies regarding cheese dreaming. Their findings are interesting and generally reveal that cheese doesn’t lead to nightmares. But is there a reliable link between cheese and dreams? We explore the facts behind their findings.
The Cheese Board’s famous study tested 200 volunteers in a week-long experiment. Those tested ate 20g of various cheeses 30 minutes before hitting the sheets. The findings on cheese and dreams were as follows.
As stated, the study showed that cheese didn’t lead to nightmares. In fact, 75 per cent of the cheese-eating volunteers apparently slept very well. None of the 200 participants were able to recall having a nightmare. Whereas over two thirds of the participants were able to recall their positive dreams the next day. This suggests that cheese doesn’t only create pleasant dreams, but also memorable ones.
One of the most interesting findings of the British Cheese Board states that cheese before bedtime can lead to different dreams dependant on which cheese you went for. The Cheddar eaters apparently experienced dreams about fame and celebrities. Lancashire cheese triggered dreams related to work. Red Leicester, on the other hand, caused nostalgic dreams about childhood. And Cheshire cheese often led to a pleasant but dreamless sleep.
However, the most bizarre dreams were thanks to Stilton with 75 per cent of the men and 85 per cent of the women who ate Stilton reporting odd dreams. An example given by one Stilton eater was that she dreamt of a vegetarian crocodile who was upset because he could no longer eat children.
But how reliable are the above findings? Neil Stanley, PhD director of sleep research at the University of Surrey, said in a press release: ‘The cheese and dream study is the first study of its kind and suggests that eating cheese before you go to bed may actually aid a good night’s sleep’. However, it seems fairly obvious that a company called the British Cheese Board is like to publish biased information that is in favour of cheese. So, are there any scientific facts that could back their findings up?
While there is currently no concrete proof regarding cheese and dreams, the science certainly suggests that cheese leads to a good night’s sleep in general. Cheese is listed as a food for sleep, because of one of the amino acids it contains – tryptophan. Tryptophan has been proven to reduce stress, balance hormones and induce sleep.
On top of this, cheese is high in B vitamins. The vitamin B6 can also improve your quality of sleep and apparently leads to vivid dreams. Dr. Lisa Medalie states vitamin B6 increases the level of Serotonin in your body, which will cause your dreams to be more vivid and improve your memory, helping you to remember your dreams.
So, while there is no concrete proof that cheese will definitely lead to vivid dreams, it will give you a good night’s rest, with sweet dreams being a welcome and possible side effect. Either way, it’s worth reaching for the cheese board.
If you fancy testing this dream-fuelling theory and binging on cheese before bed, be careful. Cheese is high in fat, which out of all the macro-nutrients, takes the longest to digest. Therefore, while you’re lying down trying to drift off, although your mind could be in dream land, your body could be in overdrive trying to digest the cheese. This can consequently disrupt your sleep.
Thus, if you’re reaching for the cheese before bed, try opting for a low fat cheese. Reduced fat mozzarella or cottage cheese is always popular and can help you avoid any discomfort overnight.
Have you found that cheese has led to interesting dreams? Let us know in the comments!