Have you ever spent a night tossing and turning, because you don’t feel good? It’s miserable, isn’t it? Well, if you have Celiac disease, then I would bet my last dollar you’ve had plenty of nights where you don’t sleep well. I know I went through years of sleep deprivation before I found out I have gluten intolerance.
Actually, it only makes sense that getting enough sleep would be difficult when you’re experiencing symptoms of Celiac disease. After all, it’s a malabsorption disease which means you’re not getting enough nutrients. That in turn means your whole body can’t work efficiently, because it doesn’t have the right building blocks for repair.
When I was sick with the flu as a child, my mother always told me to get plenty of rest because that’s when the body heals itself. Continued studies show my mom was right … again (the scientists should have just asked her!). When we sleep the body goes through a series of processes that include boosting the immune system.
So here’s the picture: I have digestive problems that cause diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, headaches and an ability to eat normally. And I’m suppose to get rest??!! I spent many years sleeping like a person with a chronic illness, and it turns out I had one and didn’t know it.
When you have Celiac disease, odds are you’re having trouble sleeping just like I did before I was diagnosed.
If you have gluten intolerance, and can’t sleep, you’re not alone by any means. But having Celiac disease is not considered a disability. You still have to go to work on no sleep. Stay-at-home-mothers must still take the kids to school early in the morning and be alert through the day for the baby or to take care of the million things women handle.
Gluten intolerance is bad enough without losing sleep over it too. Lack of adequate sleep can really impact the quality of life. Put together all the symptoms we suffer as Celiac’s and throw in losing sleep at night as well, it becomes a double whammy!
I’m not an advocate of taking medication unless it’s absolutely necessary. So I did some research on natural ways to improve sleep once I discovered why I was always feeling so poorly. I thought I’d share some of them with you in case you’re not getting restful sleep and now must deal with healing from the effects of eating gluten too.
First, always sleep in a dark room. That sounds obvious, but too many people try to fall asleep with lights on. Get your bedroom as dark as possible and also spend some time unwinding before you get into bed. I have 2 young boys and would be running like a madwoman from early in the morning until I went to bed despite feeling poorly. I know there’s a lot to do everyday, but you’re not going to be healthy or alert without sleep.
I try to spend 30 minutes before I go to bed doing something relaxing. I may read a book, or watch the news, or just listen to some soft music. You can do whatever helps you eliminate the stress of the day.
Most importantly, I don’t drink or eat anything with caffeine after noon everyday. As a Celiac, food and drink choices become very limited and it’s tough to have to avoid even some of the favorite foods (or coffee in my case) you can still eat or drink. But there’s always tomorrow (in the words of Scarlett O’Hara).
I had to give up naps because of the kids, but even if you can sleep during the day – don’t. It can be tempting to sleep during the day when you’ve been losing sleep at night. But naps just aggravate the situation.
If nothing works, and you continue to sleep poorly, you should see a doctor and find out what alternatives are available. Alternatives can include gluten-free medication.
Getting appropriate sleep is important for building the immune system. Heaven knows you need your immune system in tip-top shape to help rebuild and prevent any future illnesses that may come your way.