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Does Going Gluten-Free Affect Your Sleep? Plus 3 More 'Sleep Diets'

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Quality sleep and your diet are often linked. Dr. Frank Lipman, a health and wellness expert who also advises on sleep matters tells us, "Under sleeping disrupts metabolism and hormonal balance, and creates fat accumulation." His advice made us wonder how certain diets might affect your sleep, and also how different sleep patterns might affect your ability to maintain or lose weight. Here's what medical science thinks about a few recent 'sleep diet' trends.

Gluten-Free Diet and Sleep


Does going gluten-free affect your sleep? The jury is still out, but current research points to a positive correlation. A recent study conducted by researchers in Israel and was published in the journal BMC Pediatrics. The findings indicated that a gluten-free diet is a valid treatment for children with celiac disease (stemming from gluten intolerance) who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. In addition, most gluten-free studies don't necessarily address sleeping problems faced by the non-celiac but still gluten-sensitive community. However, if you suffer from non-celiac related gluten sensitivity you may still feel the effects of malabsorption. The small intestine is responsible for nutrient absorption, and damage to it may lead to nutrient deficits, including vitamin B12 deficiency and anemia -- both of which are also related to insomnia. Go gluten-free and you may just sleep better, too. New to the gluten-free world? We like Pereg for a variety of gluten-free grain, flour and pasta alternatives. Have kids with gluten sensitivity? Try Meli's Monster Cookies for a sweet gluten-free treat for them (or you), and Absolutely Gluten Free's TahiniBAR for calorie-counting adults.

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The Body Ecology Diet and Sleep

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This 'elimination diet' is an extension of, say, a gluten-free diet or a lactose free diet. The body ecology diet is all about identifying various common allergenic foods and cross-reactive foods. According to sleep experts, if you suspect that a food allergy may be at the root of your insomnia, it is essential to first address the food allergy. Unfortunately, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), there's no simple test available to diagnose delayed-onset (or non-IgE-mediated) food allergies. NIAID says skin prick tests and blood tests are not reliable, and only invasive procedures like endoscopies and biopsies can accurately confirm a food allergy. Either way, if you have a food allergy, regardless of whether you show signs of a gut disorder, your doctor should detect inflammation along your gastrointestinal tract. The easiest way to address this is to eliminate possible allergens and cross-reactive foods, such as cow's milk (lactose), peanuts, tree nuts, wheat (gluten), crustacean shellfish, soy, and corn, to begin with. Similarly, in 2016 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine researchers reported that eating low-fiber, sugary, processed foods can lead to poor quality sleep. Slowly but surely, removing these reactive food items from your diet -- and adding in a doctor approved probiotic or foods that have allergy-fighting properties, like certain types of seaweed -- can have a positive effect on your sleep habits.

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Go to Sleep Before 6 P.M. Diet

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The "Before 6 P.M. Diet" is pretty much just what it sounds like: Finishing your eating for the day well before your bedtime. Though your body doesn’t suddenly start to stockpile food as fat when the clock strikes six, eating at night is linked to weight gain. Limiting late-night eating may result in weight loss, but this is more related to the types of food (heavy meals, desserts and other late night munchies) that are typically consumed in the evening hours. But, if you're plagued by late-night hunger, it's likely you're not eating enough filling foods earlier in the day.  "Instead of thinking about not eating in the evening, focus on fueling well all day long," dietitian Anna Rossinoff tells Women's Health.

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The Sleep Diet

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This one is the most straightforward and potentially easiest diet to follow if you're not already too much of a night owl. A study of 68,000 women conducted by Harvard Medical School over the course of 16 years reportedly showed evidence that women who slept five hours a night were 32 percent more likely to gain 30 pounds or more over time vs. women who slept seven hours or more. Plus, many studies have generally found that adults who are short sleepers (defined as 5 - 6 hours or less) were as much as 45% more likely to be obese. Accordingly, researchers from King’s College London recently found that a longer night's sleep could aid people in reducing their sugar intake and lead a healthier diet overall. After being given a list of personalized behaviors to help them get more sleep, like avoiding caffeine before bed and establishing a relaxing routine, 21 participants extended their time in bed by up to 1.5 hours per night. The results of the study found a link between sleep duration and food choices. The lead author of the study, Dr. Haya Al Khatibi, told The Mirror: "Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices ... This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies."

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