Can Celiac Disease Cause Sleep Apnea? - Celiac Disease
Jan 28 2009

Can Celiac Disease Cause Sleep Apnea?

Now that more research is being put into Celiac Disease, it is truly amazing just how many problems are now considered to be a symptom of Celiac.    It seems I read about new ones all the time, or I see previously speculated information actually be confirmed.

While doing some symptom research, I recently noticed that Best Sleep Apnea Treatments has written a post referencing sleep apnea and other sleep disorders as symptoms of Celiac Disease and a gluten intolerance.

They site gluten is a key component for sleeping comfortably and people that are intolerant to gluten in turn develop sleeping problems:

Sleep doctors are able to detect and treat both common and rare sleep disorders. Some common sleep disorders are insomnia, jet lag, sleepwalking, snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.  And, it could be that you have intolerance to gluten.

Gluten is a type of protein compound in certain cereal grains – primarily wheat, barley, and rye – the basis of breads, baked goods, and pasta. These are foods that are helpful in getting good sleep.  But the inability to sufficiently digest gluten protein can lead to all sorts of symptoms, including skin rashes, irritability, aggression, moodiness, ‘brain fog,’ cognitive problems, cramping, bowel problems, pain, and sleep disturbances.  This is why it is so important to see a doctor if you are experiencing sleep disturbances as often the sleeping problems are really caused by a medical problem.

When intestinal cells are damaged for any reason, they cannot properly absorb nutrients, which results in malabsorption. Without healthy intestinalcells, you can become malnourished, no matter how much food you eat. Many people do not realize that a second key function of intestinal cells is to produce several key digestive enzymes. In particular, these cells produce specific protein and carbohydrate degrading enzymes needed for the thorough digestion of gluten (and other similar proteins such as casein).

Sleep disorders is a pretty big group of symptoms to attribute to Celiac Disease, so this is definitely something people should be aware of and looking for in my opinion. 

On a similar note, I also noticed our friend Zach wrote about Restless Leg Syndrome (another sleep disorder) and how it is also considered to be a symptom of Celiac Disease.

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!


  1. Helen Richardson says:

    Interesting post thanks Kyle. I hadn’t heard this before – would like to share it with our readers.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Kyle Eslick says:

    @ Helen – Thanks for the kind words! Comments like this help keep me motivated. 😀

  3. D. Holthusen says:

    I read this post and thought other’s should know what I’ve experienced. I have been treated for sleep apnea for three years, and have seen major improvements in my health, but still had some issues. I persued these recently and was diagnosed with Celiac. I have been on a gluten-free diet for over two months now and have noticed that the numbers on my apap machine (gives 7 and 30 day averages) have been steadily decreasing. The average pressure has gone from 9-10 down to around 7, and now has dropped below that. It doesn’t even feel like it increased in pressure anymore. The AHI nembers have also decreased to less than 3 (previously were between 4 and 5). This has never happened in the three years that I have used the machine, and the decreases seem to track directly to my avoidance of gluten. My sleep time has also been improving steadily in that I’m not waking up/staying awake in the early morning hours as often.

  4. V. Wallace says:

    I was on a cpap machine for several years and then got diagnosed with Celiac disease. After about a year and a half I was able to get off the cpap machine and am stronger now in my 50s than when I was in my 30s. Also my astma is gone and my arthritic knees only flare up if I accidently get in contact with Gluten.

  5. Nat says:

    I’m currently eating wheat again after a 6 month break in order to be tested for celiac disease and my sleep apnea returned. i think you are right.

  6. marla says:

    My boyfriend sleepwalked/ran his whole life. Even punched out a window and jumped out in his sleep. Sleeptalks too, but less scarily. He was diagnosed with Celiac over a year ago, and gluten free didnt help. We finally went completely grain and soy free (GAPS diet) and have seen moderate improvements… most notably he only sleepwalks when he rarely gets glutened (like eating dates!!)

  7. Mary Frederickson says:

    I was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea a few years ago. I have snored loudly my whole life. Those around me have noticed recently that I do not snore anymore. I got diagnosed with Celiac disease 4 months and have followed the diet religiously, I attribute it as a symptom of the disease, now that it has gone away.

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