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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: True or False: Eating Cheese Before Bed Causes Nightmares

Will Cheese go to your head & lead to Nightmares?
Thought for the Day: I was too busy to post yesterday. but am back on track today. Summer time is a bit tricky and I may post a bit more infrequently, but stay tuned. It's Thursday and time for a psychology trivia question. What do you think?
True or False: Eating cheese before going to bed causes nightmares
     The answer is false. In actuality, not only does it help people sleep comfortably, it also appears that specific kinds of cheese lead to different types of vivid dreams, which are remembered the next day. 
     The study which was featured on NPR in 2005, was conducted in Britain. Although one might question the objectivity of the study sponsored by the British Cheese Board (I don't think the pun was intentional, but it is a bit funny). They were attempting to correct the myth that eating cheese before you go to bed gives you nightmares. In the NPR interview, Nigel White, Secretary of the British Cheese Board, says the study was unbiased and followed scientific guidelines. Participants were given small amounts of cheese before going to sleep. They also kept a sleep diary to record dreams and how well they slept each night for a week.  Here's what they found: 
          1) About 3/4 of the participants slept well every night; 
          2) most of the participants could remember the dreams that they had (being asked to keep a diary, not eating cheese, may have led to recall in the way that people in psychotherapy with therapists who interpret dreams leads to increased recall of dreams); 
          3) subjects who ate blue cheese, Blue Stilton, reported having very vivid strange, but not nightmarish dreams (vegetarian alligators regretting not being able to eat children); 
          4) those who ate Cheddar dreamt of celebrities; 
          5) Red Leicester Cheese led to nostalgic dreams of childhood memories or past activities with their families; 
          6) Lancashire Cheese seemed to stimulate dreams about work; and, 
          7) those who ate Cheshire Cheese said they slept well, but did not remember any dreams.

     Mr. White hopes the study's findings will help disprove the myth about cheese. He attributes the findings to an essential amino acid in milk called tryptophan, which is known to be helpful in sleep normalization and stress reduction. So cheese may help fight insomnia. If this is the case, eating cheese before bed may lead to a good night's sleep with some interesting dreams as an added benefit.  If you'd like to know more about this study,  listen to the entire interview by Melissa Block on NPR's site.
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