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Does cheese give you nightmares?

Never let it be said that we’re afraid to tackle the big questions in the Graham’s The Family Dairy blog section. This week we’re taking on one of the biggest ones of all – does cheese give you nightmares? As cheese producers and cheese lovers rolled into one (see, we’re already talking about cheese rolls) we felt that it was time that we got to the bottom of this notion, once and for all.

Where does the idea of cheese giving you nightmares originate?

Everybody ‘knows’ that eating cheese before bedtimes gives you nightmares, but where did this belief actually come from? Well, it’s mentioned in the famous Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, when Ebenezer Scrooge blames a bad dream on eating cheese. Did Dickens pick up on an existing idea or was it merely a literary device created to let his Scrooge character delude himself? We can’t say for sure but it does seem that it was this hugely popular story that has made the idea so prevalent today.

Strange that a famous Christmas story would have planted negative thoughts about cheese given that it’s a time of year when most of us can’t get enough of it!

Has anyone actually tested the effects of cheese on sleep?

In 2005, the British Cheese Board actually conducted a test in which they gave 200 people a 20g piece of cheese to eat before bedtime. None of the people who took part reported experiencing nightmares and most of them, in fact, reported that they’d enjoyed a good night’s sleep. So it would seem that Ebenezer’s sleepy sorrows stemmed for a life of being a grump and a miser rather than from indulging in a little bit of dairy delight!

Is there any link between cheese and how you sleep?

Scientist have previously pointed out that – like turkey, egg white and various other foods – cheese is a source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body is unable to produce for itself and which has to be sourced from our diet. The reason why this is sometimes mentioned in relation to sleep is that tryptophan is a precursor for two substances in the body that help to induce and regulate our sleep – melatonin and serotonin.

This is also probably where the idea of having warm milk before bedtime comes from. Unfortunately, at the moment there’s no clear evidence supporting the idea that consuming foods with tryptophan in them will help you to get to sleep more easily.

Well, apart from how drowsy you feel after a plateful of turkey at Christmas!

So what’s the conclusion – does cheese give you nightmares?

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that cheese does give you nightmares. In fact, the only cheese-related nightmare we ever have is of going to the fridge and finding that we’ve run out! So please, sleep easy and continue enjoying cheese. Personally, we think we’d even put up with nightmares, such is our love for fromage. That’s right, it’s a full-on fromance. The good news is though that our research has shown you can sleep easy and continue to enjoy the Graham’s Cheese range