The old wives’ tale that eating cheese before bed would stop you sleeping well due to nightmares does not seem to hold true. Recent studies have found that rather than causing nightmares, eating a 20g block of cheese before bedtime can actually help people to experience more restful and satisfying sleep.
An experiment by the British Cheese Board took 200 volunteers, each of whom ate a 20g block of cheese before going to bed. They did this each night for a week, half an hour before bedtime. Nearly three-quarters of those who took part in the study reported that they slept very well each night, with around 65 percent stating that they remembered their dreams. There were no reports of any nightmares.
So, while munching cheese before bedtime seems unlikely to induce night terrors, it can make you more likely to remember your dreams. There also seems to be some correlation between the type of cheese one eats before bedtime and the kind of dreams that someone may experience, however.
Choose the Cheese
People who took part in the study who ate Cheddar cheese before heading off to bed often reported that their dreams involved celebrities. Those who preferred the blue streaks of Stilton before turning in reported a much greater likelihood of experiencing dreams that seemed especially strange and bizarre.
Some 60 percent of respondents reported that eating Red Leicester made them more likely to dream about old friends. If you are looking for a cheese that can help to enjoy a deep night’s sleep though, Cheshire Cheese could be the one to opt for before bedtime. Volunteers in the study who ate this type of cheese before they trundled off to bed reported dreamless nights with deep sleep. Perhaps shops like Archers Sleep Centre should provide Cheshire in their special offers and seasonal deals, as it seems to be a useful substance for promoting restfulness.
Origins and Rumours
The study shows that the old tale about cheese and a bad night’s sleep may not contain that much truth after all. There is still some considerable debate about where the belief actually originated, with some observers maintaining that it comes from a reference to a “a crumb of cheese” before bedtime in ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. The main character, Scrooge, ascribes the morsel as the reason for his visitations by ghosts. Others state that it may date from as recently as the 1950s, when cheese may have reacted badly with a certain type of anti-depressant, which was in contemporary use.
Whatever the origins of the story, there seems to be little truth in it beyond cheese perhaps altering the kind of dreams one is likely to experience. Indeed, the study also shows that eating a small amount of cheese before bedtime can actually help people to sleep well. As long as you are aware that cheese is a high calorie food and you eat a reasonable amount, munching on some Cheshire or Wensleydale might well provide the keys to unlocking a peaceful night’s sleep.
About the author:
This article was contributed by Lloyd, a freelance writer and blogger, who is currently working with Archers Sleep Centre – helping you get a better night’s sleep.