The theory that cheese causes vivid dreams

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INTRO: Our relationship with cheese is a strange one. It often ranks among people's favourite foods – there are entire festivals dedicated to cheese, where it is eaten or even rolled down hills. Tasting cheese and pairing it with wines, chutneys and biscuits has been turned into an art form. We also know it is packed with saturated fat and eating too much can be bad for us.

But according to some claims, cheese has an even more surprising darker side – it can affect our brains as we sleep. Eating cheese late at night, the rumour goes, will give you strange dreams. As far back as 1964, a researcher noted that a patient stopped having nightmares when he dropped his habit of eating one or two ounces of cheddar cheese every evening.

More recently, the now-defunct British Cheese Board, who funded a study in 2005 and concluded that eating blue cheese causes vivid dreams, while cheddar makes people dream about celebrities. The study wasn't exactly scientifically robust or published in a peer-reviewed journal, but the findings helped to perpetuate the belief that cheese can affect the content of our dreams.

There's no robust evidence that cheese causes nightmares – or, in fact, much that proves the theory wrong, either. But just the prevalence of this rumour could be enough to make it true, says Tore Nielson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal and director of its dream and nightmare laboratory.

"Just knowing that cheese affects nightmares could induce dreams, because people are suggestible," he says.

Another indirect explanation is cheese's high lactose content. A study that Nielson conducted in 2015 found that only 17% of people said their dreams seemed to be influenced by what they ate, but he says dairy products were the foods most frequently reported as causing disturbing dreams... (MORE)
Magical Realist Online
My nocturnal experience after eating a lot of cheese is a bout of painful constipation that wakes me up. It is usually relieved by the the willful expulsion of gas. Any dream I am having at the time incorporates that feeling into its own plot. So I avoid cheese at night.

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