Sleep myths: Does eating cheese at night give you nightmares?

© s.gatterwe -

© s.gatterwe –

The theory that eating cheese in the evening gives you bad dreams may be an old wives’ tale but like most myths it has some basis in fact.

It shouldn’t be just cheese that shoulders the blame though. In a post for the BBC website health writer Claudia Hammond suggests that “it could of course be the quantity of food, rather than cheese in particular which leads to indigestion”, a view cheesemonger Patricia Michelson of London’s La Fromagerie is inclined to share. “It’s what you have with your cheesy snack that’s more likely to affect your sleep. Having a cup of tea or coffee (or too much wine FB) with your late night cheese on toast might disturb you but a little bit of cheese won’t hurt.”

Some cheeses, she admits may have more effect than others. “There’s a lot of acidity in young cheeses that can jiggle up the tummy and blue cheese might give you more lurid dreams because of the high density of penicillin moulds. The best cheeses to go for if you’re a cheese-lover who wants a peaceful night’s sleep are well-matured cheeses like parmigiano reggiano, aged pecorino, comté or gruyère which are easier to digest.”

According to Hammond’s article there may be problems for people who are taking an old-style anti-depressants which prevent the breakdown of a substance called tyramine, which occurs naturally in cheese. “If tyramine builds up it can cause blood pressure to rise to levels high enough to increase the risk of heart problems or stroke.”

For most people though the overall effects of cheese are likely to be beneficial. Cheese like milk contains tryptophan a compound that helps promote sleep – so long as you don’t have it as a midnight snack …

Have you ever had a bad dream after eating cheese?

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