When You Eat Cheese Before Bed, This Is What Happens

There's a lot of talk about what's helpful before bedtime to ease one into a restful slumber. Essential oils, reading, and meditation are just a few options. There's also a lot of talk about what to avoid before bed in order to promote your quality of sleep. Along with caffeine and screen time, is cheese also something we should steer clear of?

According to the Sleep Foundation, adults aged 26-64 should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly for optimal function, with teens requiring anywhere between 8-10 hours per night. While long-term sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively impact our health over time, a single night of lost sleep can also take a physical and mental toll on the body. It can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety, an increased likelihood of minor mistakes made throughout the day, and an increased heart rate (via Journal of Integrative Neuroscience).

To ensure our body is getting the sleep that it needs, it helps to avoid certain food items before bed that may have a stimulating, rather than relaxing, effect on the body. Is cheese one of them?

Some types of cheese will keep you awake

Overall, your quality of sleep will depend on the type of cheese you decide to munch on. According to Benenden Health, aged cheeses can keep us awake due to their ​​high levels of tyramine. Examples of these cheeses include brie, feta, and blue cheese, all of which contain tyramine, which prompts the brain to release stimulating stress hormones (via Love Food).

Stick to cottage cheese, however, and you'll likely experience the opposite effect. Eating a half-cup of protein-packed cottage cheese before bedtime can promote sleep due to its levels of ​​tryptophan (via AskMen.com). This amino acid prompts serotonin release in the brain, a key component in healthy sleep.

One final note: if you've heard rumors that cheese can influence nightmares, you'll be happy to know that it's been proven to be just that — a rumor. The British Cheese Board conducted a study in 2005 that revealed different types of cheeses may prompt dreams of different subject matter, ranging from childhood, to work, to celebrity icons. While more research is needed on the subject, none of the female nor male participants reported experiencing any nightmares during the course of the week-long bedtime study, regardless of the type of cheese consumed.