Someone asked me recently if there is a connection between gluten intolerance and restless sleep or other sleep disturbances. Yes, was my immediate answer, based on my own experience and that of my friend’s husband. I then did a search to see if there were any studies related to celiac and sleep — I came up with no medical studies. I did however come up with a slew of personal stories about sleep disturbances and gluten, and even dairy and soy.
First, my story… I used to be a restless sleeper. I moved around a lot throughout the night. I had too-vivid dreams. I did this strange thing where I would rub my feet together in a certain way before I could settle down to sleep. I had leg cramps. I also had tingling and shooting pain at times in my toes and legs. Sometimes I was nauseous during the night. I was often congested. I snored (attractive, no?). I even had sleep paralysis a couple of times — if you have never experienced this, it is an awful state in which your mind wakes before your body and you are unable to move although you are awake. I actually didn’t even remember this until I began reading about other people’s sleep problems as related to gluten and found a number of people who suffered from sleep paralysis until going gluten-free. Amazing. And my sleep since being gluten-free? I sleep calmly. I hardly move. I can breathe!
Then there is the story of my friend’s husband who had restless leg syndrome. I remember her telling me that every morning she would have to massage his legs because they would be in knots from their involuntary activity all night long. As my friend searched for a treatment for him (other than the medication the doctors wanted to prescribe), she found that gluten could be a cause of restless leg syndrome. This discovery was a powerful one — once gluten-free, his restless leg syndrome went away. You can read all of Lan-Ping’s story.
Want to hear more? Here are a couple of articles that link restless leg syndrome to celiac disease (or a mineral deficiency caused by celiac):
Click the link below to enter a forum focused on gluten and sleep and read about the connections people have found between gluten and restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, nightmares, insomnia, and even getting up too often to go to the bathroom. There are 10 pages of related topics, so be sure to click to the next pages.
I would love to hear any personal experience you have with sleep issues and gluten or other foods. Please comment below!