Can Celiac Disease Cause Insomnia?
If you’ve been experiencing chronic insomnia, along with abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, headaches and joint pain, you may be wondering: can celiac disease cause insomnia? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that primarily attacks the small intestine, but its effects can be felt throughout the body. In fact, new studies have led researchers to suggest that insomnia and sleep problems should be added to the list of celiac disease symptoms.
How Can Celiac Disease Cause Insomnia?
The connection between celiac disease and insomnia is well known, but not well researched. It was long thought that celiac-related insomnia was due to other celiac symptoms, such as gastrointestinal distress (gas, constipation, diarrhea) or malnutrition. Nearly all celiac symptoms can have negative impacts on sleep, from acid reflux, headaches and joint pain that can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep, to anemia (which is linked to restless leg syndrome), anxiety and depression.
However, a 2010 study by the University of Naples found that insomnia and sleep problems appear to be a direct symptom of celiac disease rather than a side effect of GI distress. Furthermore, these problems often persisted even after years of eating a gluten-free diet. More research is needed to understand the link between celiac disease and insomnia, and how best to treat celiac-related sleep problems.
How to Relieve Insomnia Caused by Celiac Disease
Poor or insufficient sleep can lead to extreme fatigue, irritability and reduced productivity, as well as negatively affecting your quality of life. Here are some steps you can take to reduce insomnia caused by celiac disease:
- Stick to a gluten-free diet – While eliminating gluten doesn’t completely resolve insomnia in celiac patients, it does reduce sleepless nights. Patients have noticed a direct correlation to accidentally ingesting gluten and poor sleep. Eliminating gluten is also crucial to controlling celiac disease and preventing the inflammation and painful autoimmune response triggered by ingesting gluten.
- Avoid processed foods – Gluten often hides in unexpected places, particularly processed foods and even candy. Talk to your doctor about what foods you should avoid as part of a gluten-free diet and what foods can help restore a healthy gut. Your doctor can also provide you with a personalized nutrition plan to avoid food sensitivities and ensure you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need.
- Stick to sleep schedule – Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day helps train your body to sleep. Following a bedtime routine is also beneficial by telling your body it is time to sleep, whether it is brushing your teeth, reading a book, or taking a hot bath.
- Cut back on caffeine – Limiting your caffeine intake, particularly in the afternoon, will make it easier to fall asleep. Remember that caffeine is not just limited to coffee, but is also found in tea, soda and chocolate.
- Turn off the electronics – Blue light produced by TVs, computers, cell phones and other electronics can suppress the release of melatonin – a hormone released by the body that controls circadian rhythms and helps you sleep. Shutting off these electronics an hour before bed can help you fall asleep easier. You should also consider shutting off alerts on your phone at a certain time to resist the temptation of checking one last email or social media feed.
Learn More About How Celiac Disease Causes Insomnia
As celiac disease becomes more common, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms so that you can seek early treatment and minimize damage to your small intestine. At Anchor Wellness Center, Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM and her staff will treat the underlying cause of celiac disease, not just the symptoms. As a Board Certified physician in Family Medicine, as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra takes a holistic approach to your health, helping you regain your health and reduce the effects of chronic disease.
If you need help treating celiac disease, call us today at (832) 246-8437 and schedule a consultation.