BedMD: Foods That May Give You Nightmares
2/19/2020 | Casper Editorial Team
When we wake up in the middle of the night, heart stuttering from some recent nightmare, we often search for something to blame. It makes sense to suspect food, as rich, spicy meals lead to heartburn and other stomach issues — which, one might think, could contribute to nightmares. However, no scientific data has proven an answer either way.
That’s not for lack of effort, as many studies have been done to find a correlation between the two. One of the most notable took place in 2016 and was conducted by Tore Nielsen of the Dream & Nightmare Laboratory in Montreal.
Nielsen had 396 male students complete questionnaires about their dietary and sleep habits, and whether they had any disturbing dreams. Interestingly, Nielsen did notice a pattern between what you eat and what horrific dreams may come. However, he theorized this was only because the participants believed food choice led to nightmares.
Here are 13 of the foods that were used in the study, ranked in descending order from their likeliness to cause nightmares among the participants.
Of the 68 participants who indicated that their dreams were affected by eating certain foods, 12.5 percent blamed it on cheese.
Whether it’s warranted or not, cheese does have a big reputation for causing nightmares — according to a totally unofficial study conducted by the British Cheese Board, Stilton cheese can result in dreams that are bizarre or crazy.
Don’t tell your nonna — ragus, ziti and other such dishes nabbed 12.5 percent. High carb content can be blamed for pasta’s nightmare-inducing qualities.
12.5 percent of participants surveyors called out steak, hamburgers and hot dogs as being associated with wicked dreams.
5. Spicy Foods
Might want to stop slathering all that Sriracha on your dinner. More than nine percent of participants blamed nightmares on spicy foods. For what it’s worth, dream analyst Lauri Lowenberg says that spicy, rich foods are definitely a gateway to nightmares.
A rather unassuming condiment, 9.4 percent of participants did say that the brined cucumbers caused gnarly reveries.
Contrary to lullaby lore, a glass of warm milk might actually contribute to a worse night’s sleep. 6.3 percent of participants accusing milk of causing nightmares.
8. Sugar, Sweets and Candy
More than six percent of participants said their sweet tooth left them scared sleepless. Sugar can kickstart the metabolism and cause restlessness. Not to mention, sweets before bed can be harmful to your dental health if you don’t brush properly before bed.
Some may find this as straightforward, others may be saddened. Classified separately from sugar, sweets and candy, chocolate was the reason 6.3 percent of participants said they had nightmares.
10. Fast Food
6.3 percent of participants said their liking for fast food gave them bad dreams. Especially for those with heartburn, deep-fried and oily food will cause gastric acid to flare. This causes discomfort and nausea in some cases.
6.3 percent of participants indicated nightmares on nights when they ate vegetables. Maybe they were just trying to avoid those Brussel sprouts. Or, their metabolism was kicked into gear and they were given energy from a dish with spinach, kale or other power-packed veggies.
Poutine, that gluttonous Canadian dish in which a pile of french fries are speckled with cheese curds and slathered in gravy, was responsible for 3.1 percent of participants saying they had nightmares.
As if carbs weren’t bad enough: Three percent of participants said noodles gave them bad dreams.
On the other hand, some foods exist to help you catch Z’s. These dishes catalyze melatonin production in the body and help soothe you. In moderation, here are 25 foods that can help you sleep.
No matter what you eat before bed, though, you should set conditions for optimal sleep. That means buying the best mattress on the market.