Different dreams with different cheese

By Chris Mercer

Eating cheese before you go to bed will not give you nightmares but different varieties could help you choose the dreams you do want to have, says a study by the British Cheese Board.

Not one of the 200 volunteers who took part in the British Cheese Board’s ‘cheese & dreams’ study reported having nightmares after eating 20g of cheese 30 minutes before bed.

The industry body said 72 per cent of participants slept very well and 67 per cent remembered their dreams.

The study, believed to be the first of its kind, serves to dispel the old wives’ tale that eating cheese before bed means a restless night in-store. It was endorsed by Neil Stanley of the Sleep Research HPRU Medical Research Centre at the University of Surrey.

Dr. Judith Bryans, a nutrition scientist at Britain’s Dairy Council, added the science bit: “One of the amino acids in cheese – tryptophan – has been shown to reduce stress and induce sleep.”

The research, in an intriguing twist, also found that different cheeses appeared to give participants different kinds of dreams.

Cheddar, officially Britain’s most popular cheese with 55 per cent of the market, enhanced dreams about celebrities. One girl said she dreamt of helping to form a human pyramid under the supervision of film star Johnny Depp.

Stilton was the wild card, especially for women. Around 85 per cent of women experienced bizarre dreams after eating Britain’s iconic blue cheese, including talking soft toys, dinner party guests being traded for camels and a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children.

Of the others, Red Leicester is likely to have you dwelling on the past and Lancashire will get you focused on the future.

The boring award goes to crumbly Cheshire, which gave more than half its consumers dreamless nights. Cheshire and Red Leicester, however, gave the best nights’ sleep.

So there it is, although with more than 700 varieties of British cheese it seems there is much left to discover.

The British Cheese Board said it hoped to use the results to encourage more cheese eating before bed. Britons currently eat 30g of cheese every day on average, yet continental Europeans eat twice as much.

The Cheese Board says 30g of cheddar contains around 30 per cent of the recommended daily calcium intake for adults.


Our dreams get more bizarre as the night goes on.


As the night wears on, your dreams escalate in weirdness, finds a small new study published in the journal Dreaming.

For two nights, the researchers outfitted 16 people with a sleep-monitoring eyelid sensor and head sensor, then proceeded to wake each person up at four different times in the night. Sleepers were asked to say what they’d been dreaming, and in the morning, they listened to their dreams and answered questions about them, like how related the dreams were to their waking life.

“We found that dreams were increasing in bizarreness from the early to late night,” says study author Dr. Josie Malinowski, a lecturer in cognitive psychology at the University of Bedfordshire in the U.K. The later dreams were more fantastical, impossible, and completely unlikely to ever happen in real life, “like a wild animal tearing up your back garden,” she says. Dreams also tend to become more emotional—in equal ways positive and negative—as the night progresses.

In the early stages of sleep, people dream more about media they’d consumed during the day, like a movie they’d watched or book they’d read. Dreams about events (as opposed to external stimuli) that happened during waking life, however, were more robust later in the night.

Some dream researchers, including Dr. Malinowski, believe you can prime the brain to dream about a particular topic through “dream incubation,” and that dreams might be able to help us problem-solve. Exploring these dreams can help people understand their own behavior, thoughts and feelings, Dr. Malinowski says.

And through her research, she’s trying to get people to take dream therapy more seriously. “People really enjoy it,” she told TIME. “Dreams are like a safe space. People feel like they haven’t generated them because they’re often so bizarre. [But] they’re a safe way to explore the self.”


Thanks to Pete Cuomo for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.