Do you ever have those nights where you just have those crazy dreams? You marry your crush, jump off a moving train, or maybe even save the world? Did you happen to eat cheese right before you had these specific dreams? There is a strange rumor that eating cheese before bed causes you to have more memorable, sweeter dreams. I know this is a famous rumor because of the amount of overused, unfunny memes there are on google images. However, did you ever wonder if this rumor was actually true, and if so how cheese affects your dreams at all?
A study done by The British Cheese Board tests whether or not cheese really does affect one’s dreams. 200 participants were given 2/3 of an ounce of cheese about a half hour before they were to go to sleep. (Melissa Block) The participants were to keep a diary recording
their dreams for two weeks. The experiment was successful in that, 3/4 of the participants were not only able to remember their dreams, but all the dreams were pleasant.
That was not the surprising part however. The crazy part was that different types of cheese have different effects. One of the more common cheeses used in the study was cheddar cheese, which caused dreams about celebrities. Blue cheese caused wild explicit dreams, with individuals being able to remember every detail. Some examples of these vivid dream are a “vegetarian crocodile who was upset because he couldn’t eat children. And another one dreamed that they had soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns (Nigel White).” There was also cheshire, which sadly caused a pleasant sleep but no memorable dreams. Because this was a study done by the British Cheese Company, of course they had to include some British cheeses. Red Leicester caused nostalgic dreams involving a familiar past, and lastly Lancashire caused people to dream about work.
This all sounds very unbelievable and somewhat an old myth, so is there really science behind this? Tryptophan is an amino acid found in dairy products. Tryptophan is known for regulating sleep and stress patterns. This sounds like a pretty believable theory, an amino acid that affects sleep creates a clear relationship between cheese and dreams. However, while this is
believable, it is not definite. There was a flaw in this study, in that there was no control group. All the participants were given cheese, so no one could say they still had pleasant rememberable dreams without the cheese. I will say though, I did eat pizza last night before bed, and had a very detailed dream about my high school teachers coming to a Penn State game. Hmm, coincidence?
There is another theory of the relationship between cheese and dreams. However, even Dana Smith, the author of Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese , admitted was a far stretch. There is a dominate fungi in cheese that may influence explicit dreams. The fungi contains tryptamine or tyramine which has chemical effects on our brain. Tryptamine affects serotonin and is said to cause hallucinations, which could explain the vivid details in dreams. However, I think it is obvious this chemical is not potent in cheese because, at least from personal experience, cheese never made me hallucinate. Locus coreuleous is the part of the brain that controls the sleep-wake cycle. The tyramine affects this area of the brain, which may cause us to sleep and wake without us actually knowing, therefore causing wild dreams. (Dana Smith)
You can decide whether or not this is enough evidence for you to believe there is some strange relationship between the cheese you eat before bed and the dream you have afterward. Personally, I’ll use any excuse to eat some late night cheese.