Sunday, 25 September 2005

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Cheese

The age old myth that cheese gives you nightmares has finally been laid to rest this week following the release of a new study carried out by the British Cheese Board.

The in-depth Cheese & Dreams study, a first of its kind, reveals that eating cheese before bed will not only aid a good night’s sleep but different cheeses will in fact cause different types of dreams.

Of the 200 volunteers who participated in the week-long study, 72% slept well every night, 67% remembered their dreams and none recorded experiencing nightmares after eating a 20g piece of cheese half an hour before going to sleep.

A lot of people still believe the old wives tale that cheese gives you nightmares but this study endorses the scientific facts.

“ One of the amino acids in cheese – tryptophan – has been shown to reduce stress and induce sleep so cheese may actually help you have a good night’s sleep,” says Dr Judith Bryans, Nutrition Scientist at The Dairy Council.

85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most unusual dreams of the whole study. 65% of people eating Cheddar dreamt about celebrities, over 65% of participants eating Red Leicester revisited their schooldays, all female participants who ate British Brie had nice relaxing dreams whereas male participants had cryptic dreams, two thirds of all those who ate Lancashire had a dream about work and over half of Cheshire eaters had a dreamless sleep.

Commenting on the study, Neil Stanley, PhD Director of Sleep Research HPRU Medical Research Centre at the University of Surrey says: "The Cheese and Dreams study conducted by the British Cheese Board is the first study of its kind and suggests that eating cheese before you go to bed may actually aid a good night’s sleep.

What is particularly interesting is the reported effect different types of British cheese have on influencing the content of dreams. It seems that selecting the type of cheese you eat before bedtime may help determine the very nature of often colourful and vivid cheese induced dreams”

The origins of the cheese gives you nightmares’ myth are inconclusive. Some believe that it may have originated from Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, who blamed “a crumb of cheese” on his night-time visitations; others people believe that its origins may lie with a Fifties’ health scare when cheese was found to be problematic for people taking a certain anti-depressant.

“Now that our Cheese & Dreams study has finally debunked the myth that cheese gives you nightmares we hope that people will think more positively about eating cheese before bed,” says Nigel White, British Cheese Board secretary.

“In fact, our results show that eating different types of British cheese can make your dreams more interesting so sleep could now become a whole new adventure.”


Notes to editors

The British Cheese Board’s Cheese & Dreams study was undertaken during a seven day period with 200 participants (100 male and 100 female). Six different types of British cheese were given to an equal number of participants. The cheeses included:

Stilton, Cheddar, Red Leicester, British Brie, Lancashire and Cheshire.

During one week, each participant ate a 20g piece of cheese 30 minutes before going to sleep and recorded the type of sleep and dreams that they experienced.

Cheese & Dream Study Results

Different Cheeses for Different Dreams

  • Red Leicester proved to be brilliant for helping participants to get a good night’s sleep – one quarter slept well every single night of the study, and 83% of all nights under the influence of Red Leicester were good sleep experiences. As for dreams, Red Leicester is the cheese to choose if you are feeling nostalgic about your past – over 60% of participants eating this cheese revisited their schooldays, or long-lost childhood friends, or previous family homes and hometowns.
  • Stilton -eating participants enjoyed their sleep too – over two thirds had good sleep experiences during five out of the seven nights. However, if you want some vivid or crazy dreams, the King of British cheeses is the one for you – particularly if you are female. While 75% of men in this category experienced odd and vivid dreams, a massive 85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most bizarre dreams of the whole study – although none were described as bad experiences. Highlights included talking soft toys, lifts that move sideways, a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children, dinner party guests being traded for camels, soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns and a party in a lunatic asylum.
  • British Brie caused all participants to sleep very well, but dreams varied between males and females; women tended to experience very nice dreams, such as Jamie Oliver cooking dinner in their kitchens, or relaxing on a sunny beach. By contrast, the men who ate Brie experienced rather odd, obscure dreams, such as driving against a battleship, or having a drunken conversation with a dog.
  • If you are thinking of changing career, or just suspect there could be a slightly more ideal job out there, snack on a lump of creamy Lancashire before bed and you might get some guidance; two thirds of all Lancashire participants had a dream about work – but only 30% of these involved the participants’ real-life occupations. One ambitious dreamer saw herself as a successful Prime Minister - one of her popular reforms involved teaching useful finance in schools, including how to choose the right mortgage.
  • Cheddar -eating participants tended to dream of celebrities, ranging from the participant’s family sitting in a pub with Jordan, to a Glaswegian old firm football match with Gazza and Ally McCoist. Ashley from Coronation Street also featured, as did the cast of Emmerdale - and one lucky girl helped to form a human pyramid under the supervision of Johnny Depp.
  • However, if you just want a good night’s sleep without too many dreams, then choose lovely crumbly Cheshire . In this category, over half of all nights were dreamless, while participants stated that 76% of all Cheshire-induced sleeps were either “quite good” or “very good”.

Notes To Editors:

The British Cheese Board aims to increase consumption of cheese in the UK, and British cheese in particular. It also promotes the health and lifestyle benefits of eating cheese, which include the following:

  • It is one of nature's most complete foods
  • It contains essential nutrients - protein, vitamins, calcium and other minerals
  • It is a natural food source
  • It is versatile and easy to cook with

There are over 700 varieties of British cheese available, with a British Cheese for every occasion.

The work of the BCB is supported by British dairy farmers through the Milk Development Council and also by associate members who are involved in the cheese supply chain.

For further information please call 020 7404 6777 and ask for:

Victoria Johnson – /  07989 32585

Sarah Bentley – / 07801 462518

For more information about British Cheese in general, please visit

Dragon Court, 27 Macklin Street, London, WC2B 5LX     Tel: 0117 921 1744     Email: