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In Brief

Does a Snack of Cheese Before Bed Give You Nightmares?

cheese, snacks, assorted cheeses
Cheese is a popular treat, but it has a dark, dangerous side you may not know about. (Image credit: stock.xchng)

If you eat cheese before bed you're sure to get nightmares. At least, that's a common piece of folk wisdom.

But in 2005, the British Cheese Board (a cheese industry group) tried to put this old wives' tale to bed. The team gave 200 participants a snack of cheese 30 minutes before bedtime and then asked them to record their dreams.

None reported nightmares and many had pleasant night reveries. The researchers even classified cheeses by their effect: Blue stilton produced the trippiest dreams, involving warrior kittens and vegetarian crocodiles, the Nature Mind Read blog reported. Cheshire cheese produced the dullest effect, with most people dreaming about nothing at all. The researchers didn't have a control group, so there's no way to know how the cheese-tinted dreams stacked up against those who didn't have a bedtime cheese snack or those who had another snack, say, soy-based cheese.

Some theories suggests that the bacterial and fungal elements of cheese contain psychoactive ingredients that affect dreams, but there's no data to support that idea.

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Tia Ghose

Tia is the assistant managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.