Insomnia and food allergies = food-allergy insomnia

Food allergies may be a silent culprit for some. They can lead to all kinds of symptoms that can wreck a perfectly good day. Take unidentified or untreated food allergies to bed with you, and you can be sure that both your days and nights will suffer. 

What is food-allergy insomnia?

According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (3rd edition) (ICSD-3), "Food allergy insomnia is a disorder of initiating and maintaining sleep due
to an allergic response to food allergens."

Food-allergy insomnia has extrinsic causes, meaning it is a sleep disorder influenced by factors outside the body. 

Both adult and children can suffer from food-allergy insomnia, though it's more commonly noted in children under the age of 4. 

However, the incidence of food allergies in adults does seem to be on the rise, according to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control study, which showed an increase in food allergies by about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

This means that some 15 million Americans—9 million of them adults—suffer from food allergies. That's a lot of people losing sleep because of something they ate.

Fortunately, the removal of the allergen from the diet ends the problems with sleeplessness. But the problem remains: many people are unaware they have food allergies to begin with. 

The ICSD-3 has an established protocol for identifying patients with food-allergy insomnia:

They also suffer from two or more of the following symptoms: 
  1. Anxiety, agitation, or irritability
  2. Daytime sleepiness
  3. Breathing problems
  4. Skin rash
  5. Stomach upset
Tests can help confirm the diagnosis by showing:

Is there a difference between food allergy, food intolerance, and food sensitivity?

Generally speaking, a food allergy relates to an immune system response to the protein component of a food. A food tolerance, or food sensitivity, relates to a digestive system response to a carbohydrate component of a food. 

Both food allergies and intolerances lead to many uncomfortable symptoms.

Food sensitivities may be more difficult to identify, as the symptoms often don't appear until long after the food has been consumed. Sometimes it might be days before a sensitivity presents itself. 

Food allergies, however, present immediately and can lead to life-threatening symptoms, whereas food intolerances do not.

In any event, both can also lead to major sleep problems including debilitating insomnia.

How to be an allergy detective

If you suspect that you might have a food allergy, and you've experience insomnia enough to be concerned by it, considered taking action in these ways:

All of these actions can go a long way to help you to not only overcome your food allergy or sensitivity problems, but to reclaim a healthy sleep habit once again and, most importantly, rid yourself of insomnia.


Centers for Disease Control
International Classification of Sleep Disorders (3rd ed.) 
Sleep Medicine: Essentials and Review (©2008, T. Lee-Chiong)id
A Woman's Health

You Might Also Enjoy...

Parasomnia: 5 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know

If you walk, talk, eat, or even drive while you’re asleep, you’re experiencing a parasomnia. Here are five facts about parasomnia, along with advice on what to do if you engage in unusual behavior while you sleep.

How Sleep Problems Increase with Age

As you age, you may have more trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting enough sleep to feel refreshed. It’s normal for age to affect sleep, but there are steps you can take to get the rest you need.

Can Melatonin Really Help You Sleep?

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may think of taking melatonin supplements. But do they really help with sleep? For some people, the answer is yes.