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Cheese gives you nightmares: fact or old wives’ tale?

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Written by Lewis Robinson

As a child, you may recall sneaking into the kitchen cupboards late at night looking for a tasty piece of Brie or Wensleydale to snack on before bed, only for your mum to catch you in the act and scold you with ‘cheese will give you nightmares!’

It all started when Ebenezer Scrooge blamed his supernatural encounters in A Christmas Carol on a pre-bedtime cheese habit. Since then, we as a nation have stayed away from cheese before bedtime – but just how true is it that eating cheese can result in bad dreams?

The science

An amino acid found in cheese known as tryptophan is sometimes said to have an effect on what happens to your mind when you bed down for the night. It is used by the body to produce serotonin in the brain, a chemical linked with mood-boosting and often, quality of sleep. Reports suggest that a large amount of this chemical before bed can induce a deep sleep, during which you are more likely to dream. However, there is no proof that the dreams it may give you will necessarily be nightmares.

The study

A 2005 study by the British Cheese Board (which may well be the best-named British organisation to have ever existed) found that eating cheese before bed did not result in more nightmares. The experiment, which tested 200 volunteers over a week-long period found that 70% of those involved slept ‘very well’ every night and only two thirds remembered their dreams. However, it did find that what type of cheese you choose as your midnight snack can impact what kind of dream you have. Take a look at our list below to see if you can find a link between your favourite cheese and your usual dreams…

Cheddar

The 2005 study claimed Cheddar was responsible for causing dreams about celebrities.

Red Leicester

This popular cheese can induce nostalgic dreams about the past.

Stilton

The classically stinky Stilton cheese proved responsible for producing the craziest and most vivid dreams.

Cheshire

If you’re needing a good night’s sleep, Cheshire cheese could be your best friend, as over half the volunteers who ate 20g of Cheshire cheese before bed reported recalling no dreams at all.

So if you’re feeling peckish at night, don’t hesitate to curl up on one of our comfy mattresses with a block of your favourite cheese – sweet dreams!

About the author

Lewis Robinson