What is the connection between cheese, dreams and self development? Many people believe that eating cheese before bed gives you a restless night and bad dreams. Self development is concerned with ensuring that your body and mind are in tip top condition. Does cheese really upset this balance or can it help to give you a good night’s sleep?
The debate about cheese
Many people believe that cheese gives you nightmares yet others believe that eating cheese helps you to sleep better. For years parents have been telling children not to eat cheese before bedtime to prevent nightmares. The origin of cheese giving you bad dreams is not conclusive but many people still believe that eating cheese before bedtime causes a disruptive night.
The British Cheese Board study
A study that is often quoted is the one commissioned by the British Cheese Board in 2005 to look into the effect of cheese on sleep and dreaming. There were 200 participants (100 male, 100 female) and over a week each person ate a 20g piece of cheese half an hour before going to bed. Recordings were made of the type of sleep and dreams they had. Six different types of British cheese (British Brie, Cheddar, Cheshire, Lancashire, Red Leicester, Stilton) were assessed.
Results indicated that no one had nightmares and most people reported a good night's sleep with pleasant dreams. Results also showed that the type of cheese they ate seemed to influence the type of dream they had:
* British Brie - The women had more relaxing dreams and the men had more obscure dreams.
* Cheddar – The dreams were related to celebrities.
* Cheshire – The dreams were fewer and these were described as good ones.
* Lancashire - Two thirds of the participants dreamt about work but only a third of these were related to their actual jobs. The dreams were more about alternative occupations.
* Red Leicester – Over 60% of participants dreamt about their past in a nostalgic way with dreams about school days, childhood friends, previous family homes, etc.
* Stilton – The dreams were described as bizarre and vivid.
The study summarised that none of these six cheeses appeared to produce nightmares and participants claimed that the cheese promoted good sleep. However, it would be interesting to know how the results would have changed if:
* A larger number of subjects (more than 200) had been studied
* Larger amounts of cheese (more than 20g) had been eaten
* A control group of subjects had been incorporated in the study for comparison
* Additional varieties of cheese had been used as there are hundreds on the market!
Other studies suggest that cheese can relieve stress and induce sleep as it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that appears to stimulate more peaceful sleep.
But then there are studies that have shown that when subjects were given pre-bedtime diets containing similar quantities of tryptophan, those with the highest biotic culture content produced the greatest number and most vivid dreams.
And what about other foods that are high in tryptophan, such as eggs, milk, chicken? Do they also influence dreaming to the same extent as cheese? Anecdotal comments suggest that this is not so.
Some believe that cheese seems to affect dreaming because of the bacterial and/or fungal cultures in cheese. It is said that ‘strong’ cheeses (mature or mouldy) produce the strangest and most memorable dreams.
Or could it be that because cheese is hard to digest, if you eat it just before bedtime your body is still working on it and your brain is active. It could be that this is what prevents you from going into your usual deep sleep and instead, causes you to experience more vivid dreams.
Others say that anything you eat late at night needs time to digest and this is what causes you to spend more time in REM sleep and hence to dream more. On the other hand, there are claims that that eating ‘something’ just before bedtime helps to provide a more restful night.
Then there are the reports that cheese increases snoring due to the nasal congestion that is induced from the dairy product, and that this is what leads to the more restless night.
At first it may all seem rather confusing but the key appears to be finding balance in what you eat and in what quantities.
This self development article has concentrated on the effect of cheese on dreams. There are many other foods that are believed to influence your sleep patterns and stimulate dreaming. For your own personal growth and to achieve a well-balanced life, it is worth being aware of this information in order to give yourself the best possible sleep you can!