Thursday, August 8, 2013
Gluten and Snoring?
Since sharing my experiences with Morton's Neuroma/surgery and recovery have been so helpful to the masses, I thought this might be worth sharing on my blog as well.
I do not have Celiac Disease and have never associated any physical symptoms with gluten, but I have snored for years. And I have always had a love affair with bread. I followed the South Beach Diet for a few weeks several years ago and dropped 7 or 8 pounds quickly. But I didn't give up my beloved bad carbs permanently and they crept back into my diet over time. I also resumed whole grain breads and cereals after the first few days because I love them and believed they were healthy.
I work out and control portion sizes (most of the time) to maintain a healthy weight. At 54, I am only 3 pounds more than I was at 16, in spite of hitting the dreaded menopausal years. And I seem to do better with food when I don't deprive myself of anything specific. When I feel deprived, I think about food more and wind up craving things I normally wouldn't.
Food is important to me (too important) and specifically the enjoyment of good food. So I have to have a different motivation to give anything up other than just losing a few pounds.
However, I have become more concerned about my snoring recently -- wondering if I might have sleep apnea (which puts one at greater risk for stroke). As I get older, I find myself thinking about my health more than ever and not taking it for granted. I have noticed how much better I feel and sleep when I eat a lighter and/or earlier dinner, for instance. But even that doesn't always motivate me in the moment.
Because of my snoring, John and I have slept with a sound machine -- white noise -- for years (even traveling with one) and John does not complain or get mad at me for snoring. He has been sweetly long suffering and repeatedly declines my offer to sleep in another room to see if he would sleep better. He says he doesn't sleep well anyway and doesn't sleep any better when I'm gone. But he will occasionally and very gently tap me if I'm facing him and disturbing him. And I immediately turn the other way. I have not done a sleep study because it seems like everyone who does gets diagnosed with apnea, and John has always assured me that I never stop breathing. Wearing a mask doesn't appeal to me if I can avoid it. And I just assume that will be the outcome of a sleep study. I've tried a few OTC remedies, which didn't help. But for the most part I've just accepted that I snore (like a freight train) and laughed about it.
A few months ago my sister-in-law told me that my brother's snoring dramatically improved when he eliminated bread and anything with "obvious" gluten in it from his daily diet. And when he splurges and has bread (usually Naan in an Indian restaurant) he snores heavily. She said they don't read every label and gluten is a hidden ingredient in lots of things. But all they do is avoid the obvious. And within three days of eliminating those sources, my brother's snoring goes away or fades to a gentler, quieter snore (if he snores at all). She has urged me several times to try this experiment to see if it would also help me. It has taken me months to get serious about this experiment, but I finally made it through 3 days of no bread Tuesday. Yesterday was Day 4.
Well, guess what? I asked John Tuesday night to notice any difference in my snoring when he was awake during the night (because he always has awake times during the night). Yesterday morning I asked, "Did I snore less last night?" And he said, "I don't know. I slept better than usual. But when I did wake up for a minute or two, your snoring was much quieter."
Coincidence that he slept better? I think not.
I asked again this morning after Day 4. And he said again that he slept better than usual and when he did wake up, I was either not snoring or snoring very softly. So now I know that for some reason gluten and/or wheat products contribute to my snoring. It's obviously not the two pounds I've lost this week because I've weighed less and still snored. But I'll take the weight loss as a nice side benefit of avoiding bread products. And I hope to drop a few more. I like being a few pounds lighter than I've been since moving to WV and discovering all the great new restaurants here.
I wish I could tell you I don't even want bread after four days. I realize I will always want bread. I love bread (and pizza and sandwiches). And I don't intend to go without it for the rest of my life. But I don't need to eat it daily. I think I can save it for a special occasion (like Pies and Pints) and greatly restrict it in my regular diet.
If I were just avoiding gluten/carbs to lose weight or even to feel a little better physically, I probably wouldn't stay motivated daily. But if this is all it takes to decrease or eliminate my snoring, I think I can stay motivated. In all the years John and I have been married, his answer to the question, "How did you sleep?" has always been, "The same as I always sleep." He trained himself to be a light sleeper when Brittany was little and suffered with asthma. He listened for her breathing throughout the night because she had asthma from the time she was an infant. He was a single dad for years and there were many trips to the ER in the middle of the night. And he's never had a night of uninterrupted sleep since I've known him. I don't think he's ever said the words, "For some reason I slept better than usual last night."
Until the last two nights. That motivates me.
It is typically the husband who snores. In our case, it's me. We have always laughed about it and just accepted it. But I'm pretty excited about the results of my gluten experiment and just thought I'd share. Hopefully this might help someone else. If your spouse isn't willing to give up bread so you can get a better night's sleep, just tell them "Well, I guess you don't love me as much as Shari loves John." LOL. (Just kidding. You probably shouldn't say that.)