A QUARTER of adults avoid eating cheese throughout the year fearing it will give them nightmares – but are willing to indulge at Christmas.
A study of 2,000 Brits found 23 per cent have experienced a bad dream after eating cheese – naming cheddar as the worst culprit – with 43 per cent believing the old wives’ tale rings true.
But in the lead-up to Christmas, 40 per cent plan to eat cheese daily, with 32 per cent tucking into the food more than usual at this time of year.
Mozzarella, brie, goats' cheese and Cheshire cheese also featured among the top 20 cheeses people believe are most likely to give them nightmares.
The research was commissioned by Emma Sleep, which has teamed up with cheesegeek to launch a competition to find the biggest cheese-lovers to participate in an experiment, to reveal if it really does give you nightmares.
To see if the old wives’ tale is true, participants will receive a hamper of British festive cheeses to eat for 15 days in order to test the effects on their sleep and dreams.
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Featured cheeses for the experiment include some of the most popularly consumed from the research, including cheddar, blue and brie.
Theresa Schnorbach, sleep scientist at Emma Sleep, said: "When it comes to cheese, we know there are elements at work that can have both a positive and negative impact on our sleep – from increasing your REM sleep density to inducing hormone production which aids in regulating your body clock.
"Through this experiment we’ll explore the extent of these elements and put this old wives’ tale to the test."
The study found that, whether a nightmare or not, 56 per cent of adults think cheese has some effect on the quality of sleep they are able to achieve, with a third believing it causes vivid dreams.
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And 27 per cent think a cheese-heavy night can make it more difficult to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.
Though an intrepid 21 per cent would feel inclined to eat more cheese if it was proven to cause more vivid dreaming.
Of those who have avoided eating cheese before bed in the past, 56 per cent will shelve the stilton and say bye to the brie before 8pm – just in case.
It also emerged Christmas Day and Boxing Day are the cheesiest days of the season, with 31 per cent expecting to spend both days tucking into the cheese board.
Though 27 per cent admit they sleep less during the festive period than ordinary, which could be linked to their cheese intake.
And 12 per cent sometimes feel sleepy or tired shortly after indulging in a cheesy treat.
Top 20 ‘nightmare’ cheeses
4. Goats' cheese
5. Cheshire cheese
10. Red Leicester
16. Grana Padano
20. Pecorino Romano
It seems Brits are willing to power through the potential subconscious effects of a cheese-heavy meal though, as 36 per cent professed their love for cheese.
And 31 per cent named the dairy item as one of their all-time favourite foods.
In the study, conducted by OnePoll, Brits were found to eat cheese three times a week.
While a savoury 18 per cent would choose cheese over chocolate given the ultimatum, and 26 per cent can’t imagine cooking without incorporating it into the recipe.
Dr Dennis Schmoltzi, CEO at Emma Sleep, said: "Whether scientifically proven or just an old wives’ tale, there’s no doubt that Brits have identified a link between their cheese intake and the strange visions that feature in their dreams.
"Unfortunately for those who believe they have had a cheese-induced night-fright, ’tis the season to be cheesy, and vivid dreams may be part and parcel with Christmas celebrations.
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"The admiration and love for cheese felt by Brits is clear to see, and with Christmas on the horizon, I have no doubt that households across the country and dusting off their cheese boards.
"It is interesting to note the number of cheese-lovers who feel snoozy after indulging in their favourite snack – a relationship which might account for a portion of the unscheduled festive naps taken this Christmas."
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