When you’re not getting sleep, the whole world seems out of whack. When you suffer from Crohn’s disease, this might become a regular occurrence affecting your symptoms, mood, and health. Understanding the link between Crohn’s disease and sleep loss might help you solve both problems once and for all. Then you can finally rest assured that rest is assured.
Crohn’s and Sleep
Sleep disruption is a known symptom of Crohn’s disease, and additional research is confirming the link. According to the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases journal, the worse a patient’s Crohn’s disease activity, the greater their sleep disturbance. People in the study whose Crohn’s disease was moderate to severe were awake longer than those with mild conditions or who were in remission—roughly seventeen to twenty-two minutes longer. Patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease also slept less efficiently and experienced more fragmented sleep.
There are several reasons why Crohn’s disease may be affecting people’s sleep. One reason is that sleep loss is associated with certain substances in the body that cause inflammation, which is characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease. Melatonin production may also be a culprit since it is found in abundance throughout the gastrointestinal tract. If this hormone that assists with sleep rhythms is absent or lessened, it could be increasing symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Other symptoms of Crohn’s disease can disrupt sleep as well—abdominal pain and cramping, medication side effects, frequent bowel movements, and indigestion. Crohn’s disease can lead to blood loss and anemia, which can also cause fatigue during the day and take away from nighttime sleep.
Importance of Sleep
Sleep affects your mental health, physical health, safety, and overall state of mind. Studies show that adequate sleep improves your ability to learn new things by forming new pathways of memory. Your creativity, problem solving ability, and attention span are all improved by sleep. The physical body is also helped by sleep since this is when cells and blood vessels are repaired. Risk of other health problems is greatly decreased by sleep; sleep helps prevent heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure to name a few. People who get adequate sleep are more efficient at completing tasks and have a quicker reaction time making them safer during routine activities like driving, balancing, and climbing stairs. This is especially important for people in manual-labor jobs where they may be climbing ladders, lifting, or operating heavy machinery.
Research shows that Crohn’s disease and sleep loss can quickly become a vicious cycle. The worse the disease’s activity, the less quality sleep a person gets, and the loss of sleep leads to more flare-ups. In fact, a person with impaired sleep is twice as likely to experience a flare-up from Crohn’s disease as someone getting a full night’s sleep. A full night’s sleep equals seven to nine hours per night. Daytime sleep does not offer the same benefits as nighttime sleep, so naps don’t factor in to the amount of quality sleep needed.
If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, how do you overcome the sleep loss? Establish a routine with a set schedule for going to bed and waking up. Make your environment conducive to sleep—dimming the lights, listening to ambient noise, and removing distractions like phone or TV can help you mentally prepare for sleep. There is a lot of evidence to support the benefit of regular daily exercise on sleep, so find ways to be active each day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or other stimulants that can make it difficult to fall asleep and affect quality of sleep. Crohn’s disease patients need to be careful not to eat foods that trigger symptoms and be sure not to eat anything within an hour of bedtime. There are medications and supplements available that may help reduce Crohn’s disease symptoms and help with sleep.
If you are wondering how you can improve your sleep or how to address your Crohn’s disease overall, Dr. Sameer Islam can help. You can easily request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!