Cheese on a charcuterie board (Photo by Andra C Taylor Jr on Unsplash)

LONDON — A quarter of adults avoid eating cheese throughout the year because of a fear that it’ll give them nightmares. Talk about a Muenster mash!

A new poll of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom found 23 percent have experienced a bad dream after eating cheese, naming cheddar as the worst culprit. If you think this is a rumor that started on TikTok, think again. Urban legends linking cheese to nightmares have been around for over a century!

In fact, the cheesy dish Welsh rarebit has an infamous reputation for causing bizarre and disturbing dreams which dates back to the early 1900s. So, it’s not surprising that 43 percent of survey respondents believe the old wives’ tale is true.

However, in the lead-up to Christmas, 40 percent plan to put their fears aside and eat cheese daily, with 32 percent chowing down on more cheese than usual during the holidays.

As for which cheeses cause the biggest scares, mozzarella, brie, goat cheese, and Cheshire cheese all made the list of the top 20 varieties people believe are most likely to give them nightmares.

56% think cheese affects sleep

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 package of British festive cheeses to eat for 15 days in order to test the effects on their sleep and dreams. Featured cheeses for the experiment include some of the most popularly consumed from the research, including cheddar, blue, and brie.

“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,” says Theresa Schnorbach, a sleep scientist at Emma Sleep, in a statement.

“Through this experiment we’ll explore the extent of these elements and put this old wives’ tale to the test.”

Whether a nightmare or not, 56 percent 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. Another 27 percent think a cheese-heavy night can make it more difficult to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.

However, an intrepid 21 percent 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 percent will shelve the stilton and say bye to the brie before 8 p.m. — just in case. It also emerged that Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the U.K. are the cheesiest days of the holiday season, with 31 percent spending both days diving into their cheese board.

1 in 3 still can’t get enough cheese!

Researchers note that 27 percent admit they sleep less during this festive period, which could be linked to their cheese intake. Another 12 percent sometimes feel sleepy or tired shortly after indulging in a cheesy treat.

Despite all of that, respondents were willing to power through the potential subconscious effects of a cheese-heavy meal, as 36 percent professed their undying love for cheese. One in three named the dairy product as one of their all-time favorite foods.

In the survey, conducted by OnePoll, researchers found the average person eats cheese three times a week. A savory 18 percent would choose cheese over chocolate if they had to pick, and 26 percent can’t imagine cooking without incorporating it into the recipe.

“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,” says Dr. Dennis Schmoltzi, CEO at Emma Sleep. “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.”

“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,” Schmoltzi continues. “It is interesting to note the number of cheese-lovers who feel snoozy after indulging in their favorite snack – a relationship which might account for a portion of the unscheduled festive naps taken this Christmas.”

Top 20 ‘Nightmare’ Cheeses:

  1. Cheddar
  2. Mozzarella
  3. Brie
  4. Goats’ cheese
  5. Cheshire cheese
  6. Emmental
  7. Gruyère
  8. Parmesan
  9. Stilton
  10. Red Leicester
  11. Gouda
  12. Camembert
  13. Feta
  14. Gorgonzola
  15. Edam
  16. Grana Padano
  17. Halloumi
  18. Mascarpone
  19. Cotija
  20. Pecorino Romano

72 Point writer Alice Hughes contributed to this report.

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