Nightmares and cheese – Myth or Fact
March 2020 • Ed Clark
We like bringing you only the hard-hitting cheese content from around the world. And so today I’m bringing you, perhaps, the biggest of them all. Does cheese cause nightmares? And its slightly younger brother, does cheese give you strange dreams?
Now personally, I often dream of cheese and I’ll let you decide if that’s weird dream worthy. I for one don’t mind. It’s like learning another language, think enough about cheese and you’ll start dreaming in cheese.
Anyway, enough about me, back to the point.
Funnily enough, we aren’t the only committed cheese nerds interested in this topic. In 2005, The British Cheese Board put the question to the test. They gave a load of (lucky) people 85 grams of cheese to eat before bedtime.
The result? No nightmares, and actually 75% of participants said they slept very well (we aren’t making this up, Cheese really does improve your life in so many ways – here’s the sleep proof).
Rumour has it, the amino acid in milk, and therefore in cheese was working to stabilise sleep patterns and reduce stress levels. On the weird dream front though (because aren’t all dreams a little odd?) most of the 75% that reported a great sleep said they could clearly remember their dreams.
Want funky dreams?
This study however has since come under scrutiny, apparently the British Cheese board could have been bias (I don’t for one second believe that) but…
The study claims that different cheeses can give people different types of dreams. For example, cheddar being more likely to result in a dream about a celebrity, or Lancashire giving you dreams about the future. We’ve got your number psychics…
Sadly, there’s limited evidence to corroborate these theories so don’t go scoffing Lancs before bed to see the future, do it because it’s delicious.
The general consensus among scientists suggests that it isn’t necessarily eating cheese before bed that could give you weird dreams, but eating a large amount of anything before bed. Going to bed with a full stomach can result in a longer period of the night in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when your most vivid dreams occur.
This, plus the fact that indigestion can cause you to wake up more frequently - thus remembering your dreams with more clarity - and it may not just be cheese giving you the strange dreams, but the late hour you’re eating at. So perhaps ease up on the late-night food (tricky, we know).
So, where did the ‘cheese gives you nightmares’ question come from?
Well some think that it could have been an old wives’ tale to prevent heart burn and or indigestion in the night.
But the earliest mention of it in literature is of course Ebenezer Scrooge (that I could find); “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”. So, we may well have Dickens to thank for this particular myth.