It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but will eating cheese before bed lead to nightmares? Let’s take a look at whether sweet dreams are made of cheese or not, and how cheese and other foods can impact our sleep.
Can eating cheese at night affect sleep?
Cheese contains a naturally occurring compound called tyramine, which causes the brain to release stimulating ‘fight or flight’ hormones. Strong, blue, and aged cheese, such as Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and blue cheese, Camembert and Feta contain higher levels - versus young, soft cheese like cottage cheese.
Tyramine levels also increase when food is at room temperature, so that tempting, oozing slice of brie left out might keep you awake for longer than a piece that’s cut straight from the fridge.
Does eating cheese before bed give you nightmares?
The British Cheese Board conducted a study in 2015 that ruled out cheese as a cause of nightmares, and found that certain types of cheese actually encourage a good night’s sleep. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? Actually, cheese can also contain another amino acid, called tryptophan, which can encourage feelings of sleepiness.
The effects different cheeses can have on sleep?
According to the same study, these cheeses were noted for the following dreams:
A quarter of respondents slept very well on this cheese and reported nostalgic dreams where they revisited their school days, hometowns, or previous family homes.
While most people got a good night’s sleep after eating this classic blue cheese, a high number of participants - especially females - reported vivid or bizarre dreams.
This common soft cheese did not adversely affect sleep, however, women experienced nice, relaxing dreams, whereas men reported odd or obscure dreams.
Fancy a career change? This creamy cheese was linked to dreams about new jobs or occupations and may fire up your ambitious streak.
Those who ate cheddar reported more dreams about celebrities.
People who enjoyed this crumbly bedtime snack reported dreamless nights and feeling well rested.
What are the best foods for sleep?
The following foods are naturally higher in melatonin- promoting and the best snacks for a midnight feast.
Fresh cherries contain melatonin, which naturally promotes sleep.
Bananas are rich in magnesium which relaxes the muscles and can help soothe restless legs.
This lean protein is high in tryptophan, the natural mood regulator.
Raw almonds are also high in magnesium.
The worst foods for sleep?
Foods to avoid are generally spicy, fatty, contain stimulants, or spike the blood sugar levels.
Common cheese companions such as cured, smoked, and processed meats also contain high levels of tyramine, so tucking into a charcuterie board may also yield adverse effects on your sleep pattern. Tyramine levels also increase when food is at room temperature.
Chocolate contains caffeine which can stave off sleep and cause REM to occur more frequently, which can cause grogginess in the morning.
Spicy foods contain capsaicin which raises the body temperature. It also requires more energy for digestion, while takeaway curries often contain high levels of fat and salt, which will make you thirsty in the middle of the night.
Swap the crisps for unsalted popcorn as a late-night snack to ensure a more restful night. High salt levels lead to dehydration and cause water retention which causes fatigue.