The inflammatory bowel diseases Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis might worsen in the presence of sleep disturbances.
Many people understand the importance of a getting a good night’s sleep, but recent research indicates that two inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis could relapse due to sleep disturbances.
Sleep disturbances are associated with absenteeism at work, as well as an increased need for healthcare services. Research shows that it is also closely linked to gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. These problems could include hypertension or impairment of glucose control, and increased inflammation. While getting back into a normal sleep pattern can often resolve health issues, science tells us that it is different with IBD and sleep. With IBD or inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, symptoms often worsen when there are sleep disturbances.
Until recently, there have only been a handful of studies closely examining the relationship between IBD and sleep. Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are the two most common inflammatory bowel diseases. In both of these diseases there are sudden flare-ups, as well as periods of remission. It is now believed that these chronic diseases are a complex mix of genetic and environmental factors. Sleep disturbances may be one of those factors so improving sleep could potentially help manage the disease. This according to new research conducted by a team of medical specialists at Rush University in Chicago and Mercer University in Atlanta.
It turns out that sleep can modify the immune system, thus impacting chronic inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Sleep calms the inflammatory process and it also allows patients to cope better with symptoms associated with their condition – symptoms such as abdominal pain and fatigue. The data collected during the universities’ research phase suggests that poor sleep patterns can have a significant impact on the quality of life someone with inflammatory bowel disease has.
Lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing ulcerative colitis
In the fall of 2014, the journal of the American Gastroenterological Association published a study about ulcerative colitis and sleep deprivation. It concluded that if you are not getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, you might be increasing your risk of developing ulcerative colitis.
Researchers enrolled women from the Nurses’ Health Study 1 since 1976 and the NHS 2 since 1989 to gather data. The large size of the study allowed them to get a good follow-up perspective on sleep duration and ulcerative colitis. The results showed that both short and long duration sleep patterns were associated with increased risk of the disease. This means that if a participant got less than 7 hours of sleep their risk of ulcerative colitis went up and if they got more than 9 hours of sleep their risk went up as well.
One previous study, conducted in 2013 and published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggests that poor sleep quality, even when a person is in remission, can result in a two-fold increase in the risk of Crohn’s disease flare-ups at six months.
Sleep disturbance may trigger Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis relapse: Previous study
The study looked at the impact of sleep disturbance in both Crohn’s disease patients and ulcerative colitis patients. At the beginning of the study over one thousand participants had inactive Crohn’s disease. The participants who reported sleep disruptions ended up with double the rate of disease relapse six months later, compared with people who reported having normal sleep.