Having Crazy Dreams? These Foods Could Be to Blame

sleeping couple in bed

Your favorite foods may be giving you crazy dreams. | iStock.com

Dreams are a phenomenon that no one quite fully understands. We know that we all dream, whether we remember our dreams or not, and if we have recurring ones. We also know diet can have a profound effect on how well we sleep, and that certain foods can help cure insomnia troubles. But what about how food affects our dreams?

Have you ever eaten something right before bed, then found your dreams were crazier than usual throughout the night? According to Psychology Today, the British Cheese Board conducted a study in 2005 that asked participants if they believed certain foods influenced their dreams. The study found about 17% of participants thought food did in fact influence their dreams, and many agreed upon which ones made a difference.

Feel like your diet might be leading to some unusual nighttime imagery? These five foods may influence your dreams more than you think.

1. Cheese and dairy

slicing white cheddar cheese ona cutting board with a knife

Cheese may be the cause of your crazy dreams. | iStock.com

Seeing as the study we mentioned was conducted by the British Cheese Board, it’s safe to say many people think their bizarre dreams can be linked to that slice of cheese they ate before bed. According to Scitable by Nature Education, the British Cheese Board’s study found those who ate cheese before bed were likely to recall their dreams more vividly and have more pleasant dreams as well.

The type of cheese may also matter. Participants who ate Stilton found they had the craziest dreams, whereas those who ate Cheshire cheese couldn’t recall their dreams as well. Skeptical? You can always test it out for yourself.

2. Spicy foods

buffalo chicken nuggets in a bowl

Avoid spicy foods before bed if you don’t want to have vivid dreams. | iStock.com

Do you ever feel like the spicier the food you eat, the wilder your dreams? NBC News’ The Body Odd says it’s not just all in your head — your spicy meal may in fact have something to do with the crazy dreams you’ve been having. Dr. Charles Bae, M.D., a sleep medicine doctor at Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic, tells the publication eating anything close to your bedtime is likely to affect your dreams. In regards to spicy foods, your body might be working extra hard to digest the spice load, which can be disruptive to your sleep patterns. It could also be that some people are more sensitive to certain chemical compounds in foods than others. This means they’re more likely to be affected.

3. Caffeinated tea

cup of tea with lemon

The caffeine in tea can affect your dreams. | iStock.com

Your late-night cup of tea may sound like a good idea before bed, but it could actually be causing you to have some crazy dreams in the middle of the night. The problem? Caffeine. When you ingest caffeine, you’re immediately stimulating your brain, which is why it’s tough to fall asleep after you drink a cup of coffee, explains Livestrong.com. It also means your sleep won’t be as deep, so you’re more likely to experience nightmares. Do yourself a favor, and go for decaf before bed.

4. Valerian root

A woman's hands holding a cup of tea in bed

Valerian root may be the cause of your weird dreams. | iStock.com

Valerian is a flowering plant, and many people ingest it through supplements or by brewing the root as a tea. It’s often used as a sleep aid, but Shape says vivid dreams are one of the prime side effects. Additionally, Mayo Clinic says there may be other complications we don’t yet know about, recommending no one use the supplement as a sleep aid for more than a few weeks at a time. Always check with your doctor before starting any new supplement or dietary change.

5. Cherries

a bowl of cherries

Cherries contain an ingredient that can affect your sleep cycle. | iStock.com

Cherries contain melatonin, which is a naturally-occurring hormone your body secretes to help regulate your body’s natural clock. This clock dictates when you fall asleep and wake up, so having a good amount of melatonin present can help you fall into a deeper sleep, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. But if you’re particularly sensitive to the hormone, the same story says you may experience vivid dreams or nightmares if you ingest too much. If you aren’t looking to have some crazy dreams, you may want to skip out on cherries as a midnight snack.