Does Cheese Give You Nightmares?

Does Cheese Give You Nightmares? (2024)

Last updated: 09.04.2024 Reading time: 3 Min.

The age-old myth that eating cheese before bed leads to vivid dreams and nightmares has long fascinated both dreamers and cheese lovers.

But is there any truth to the idea that our favourite late-night snack influences our dreams?

Or is this just dairy folklore?

Let’s sift through the tales and facts to uncover the real connection between cheese and our dreams.

person unable to sleep with nightmares

Can cheese really lead to bad dreams?

It’s a long-standing myth that eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares.

As far back as 1964, a researcher noted that a patient stopped having nightmares once he cut cheese out of his diet [1]. 🧀

Anecdotes and studies, such as one funded by the British Cheese Board [2] in 2005 that suggests different types of cheese could influence dream content [3], largely re-fuelled the myth that cheese causes vivid dreams.

However, scientific studies examining the impact of various foods on sleep quality have not conclusively linked cheese consumption to an increase in nightmares or significantly disturbed sleep patterns.

Where does the myth of cheese causing nightmares come from?

Tales usually come from somewhere, so let’s explore a few options of why people may believe that cheese causes vivid dreams or bad dreams.

Psychological effects of belief

The myth of cheese causing nightmares may stem partly from the psychological effect of believing in it.

When individuals are primed to expect unsettling dreams after eating cheese, they may be more likely to attribute any strange dream experiences to the cheese they consumed before bed.

This phenomenon illustrates the power of suggestion in shaping our perceptions and experiences. 😮

Cheese’s high lactose content

Cheese, like other dairy products, contains lactose, a type of sugar that some people have difficulty digesting.

Individuals who are lactose intolerant [4] may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating or gas, after consuming cheese, especially if consumed in large quantities or close to bedtime.

person unable to sleep
Heavy foods before bed can lead to restless nights.

Discomfort or digestive disturbances during sleep could potentially disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to the perception of having nightmares.

Eating cheese as the last course of a meal

In many cultures, cheese is traditionally served as a final course in a meal, often accompanied by wine or other beverages. 🍷

Consuming cheese as the last course, particularly in combination with alcohol, may lead to indigestion or acid reflux in susceptible individuals.

Discomfort from these digestive issues could interfere with sleep quality and contribute to vivid or unsettling dream experiences.

Eating too much before bed

In addition to having cheese as the last course before going to sleep, simply going to bed with a full stomach [5] can negatively affect your sleep quality.

  • Digestion requires energy and can be uncomfortable, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Lying down after eating can increase the risk of acid reflux or heartburn, causing discomfort and disrupting sleep.
  • Digestive processes can also increase body temperature, which may interfere with the body's natural cooling process during sleep, leading to restlessness.

Overall, eating before bed or going to bed with a full stomach can impair sleep quality and leave individuals feeling groggy or fatigued upon waking.

person lying awake in bed
Eating too much before bed can lead to digestive issues, keeping you up at night.

And if cheese formed part of the last course of the meal, it’s more likely that cheese would have been to blame.

So does eating cheese before bed give you nightmares?

While the idea of cheese causing nightmares has persisted for centuries, scientific evidence paints a more complex picture.

Some individuals may experience unusual dreams after consuming cheese, but the relationship between cheese consumption and nightmares appears to be influenced by various factors, including individual digestion and metabolism differences.

Ultimately, the myth of cheese-induced nightmares may have more to do with cultural beliefs and individual experiences than with any inherent properties of cheese itself.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why shouldn't you eat cheese at night?

    There isn't a definitive reason why you shouldn't eat cheese at night. 

    However, some people avoid eating cheese before bed due to concerns about indigestion or potential sleep disturbances. 

    Cheese is high in fat and can be difficult to digest, which may lead to discomfort for some individuals if consumed too close to bedtime. 

    Additionally, the belief that cheese can cause vivid dreams or nightmares has led some people to avoid eating it before sleeping, although scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited. 

    Ultimately, whether or not to eat cheese at night depends on individual preferences and tolerance levels.

  • What happens if you eat too much cheese?

    Consuming too much cheese can lead to various health issues, primarily due to its high fat and calorie content. 

    Overeating cheese may contribute to weight gain, as it is calorie-dense and can easily exceed daily calorie needs. 

    Additionally, cheese is high in saturated fat, which, when consumed in excess, can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. 

    Eating large amounts of cheese may also cause digestive discomfort, such as bloating, gas, and constipation, especially in individuals who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy products. 

    Therefore, moderation is key when incorporating cheese into your diet to avoid potential adverse effects on health.

  • Does cheese affect your sleep?

    The relationship between cheese consumption and sleep is complex and varies among individuals. 

    While cheese contains tryptophan, which can influence sleep and mood through serotonin and melatonin production, there is limited scientific evidence directly linking cheese intake to sleep disturbances. 

    Factors such as individual tolerance to lactose, overall diet, and personal metabolism may play a role in how cheese affects sleep quality. 

    Additionally, consuming cheese close to bedtime may potentially disrupt sleep for some individuals due to its high fat content and potential for indigestion, but this can vary depending on individual tolerance and the type of cheese consumed.

  • Is cheese ok before bed?

    Whether cheese is okay to eat before bed depends on individual tolerance and preferences. 

    While some people may experience indigestion or disrupted sleep if they consume cheese close to bedtime due to its high fat content and potential for triggering reflux, others may not experience any negative effects. 

    It's essential to listen to your body and consider how cheese consumption before bed affects your sleep quality and overall well-being. 

    If you find that eating cheese before bed leads to discomfort or disturbs your sleep, you may want to avoid it or consume it in moderation earlier in the evening.

  • References



Editor & Certified Sleep Therapist

Nicky is an experienced writer and editor with numerous qualifications. As a certified sleep coach, her interests lie in understanding how sleep problems arise from hormonal and environmental issues, particularly as part of stress and anxiety management.

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