A New, Limited Time Only Burger in Burger King has a special selling point: It's supposed to give you nightmares.
Yes, Burger King's Halloween-themed burger "Nightmare King" is reportedly "clinically proven to trigger nightmares," it said in a press release by
The fast-food chain has commissioned a sleep study to cover its claims to underscore that the green-bundled burger causes bad dreams. Needless to say, this study has not yet been published in a journal. And what few peer-reviewed data exists about food and nightmares suggests that, if anything, fast-food, in fact, should reduce bad dreams. [11 Ways Processed Food Is Different from Real Food]
Marketing with science?
To show that his Halloween preparation actually causes nightmares, Burger King Florida commissioned Sleep and Neuro Diagnostic Services Inc. to track the sleep and dreams of 50 people, 25 of whom are the Nightmare King chicken and beef bacon at bedtime and 25 of those not. Seven of the participants who ate the sandwich reported nightmares compared to two who had not eaten the sandwich, according to a publicist from Burger King.
"According to previous studies, 4 percent of the population experience nightmares every night," said Dr. Jose Gabriel Medina, a sleep specialist who led the study, in the corporate statement. "But [for people who slept] after consuming the Nightmare King, the data obtained from the study showed that the incidence of nightmares has increased 3.5-fold."
Burger King attributed this creepy effect to Burger's "unique combination of proteins and cheese". The company says that sleep is disturbed by rapid eye movement (REM). This is the part of sleep when most dreams occur.
Dreams and Nutrition
What does the scientific community say about fast foods and dreams? Not much. There are few studies on diet and dreams. But research suggests that fast food, if anything, suppresses nightmares.
A 2007 study in the journal Psychological Reports called for about 50 students to report their dreams and food preferences. People who said they preferred fast foods, chips, and other carbohydrates reported less of their dreams than people who liked organic foods. A major 2015 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology surveyed nearly 400 students about sleep and eating and found that people reporting unhealthy eating habits also reported relatively few vivid dreams.
For nightmares, the 2015 study found no relationship between diet and bad dreams. The 2007 study found that people who liked more junk food had fewer nightmares. [7 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams]
On the other hand, there is some evidence that fasting leads to more-lively dreams, according to the 2015 study. Participants in this study who reported that they would stay longer between meals or snacks during the day also reported livelier dreams. This result could be due to the effects of fasting on the brain, the researchers said. Or it may be that the people who skipped the meal did so because they slept late in the morning, which allowed them to get extra REM sleep.
More common eating habits could affect dreams, said Tore Nielsen, a psychologist researching dreams at the University of Montreal and co-author of the 2015 study. People who reported binge eating or emotional eating also reported in this survey disturbed dreams, Nielsen told Live Science. (It's possible that the underlying emotions that drive these eating habits can also trigger bizarre or scary dreams.)
Yet, many people believe that certain foods, especially spicy food or cheese, cause bad dreams, found Nielsen and his colleagues , In fact, 11.5 percent of participants in the study said they thought their dreams were influenced by eating certain foods. Some foods contain nutrients that could theoretically affect sleep, the researchers wrote, so these participants may have been right.
But the researchers could add that the foods could also cause upset stomach, leading to sleep disorders and disturbed dreams. Or the scientists wrote that it is possible that people simply attributed their accidental bad dreams to food because they already believed in the folklore that connects the two.
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