Sleep and IBS make for strange bedfellows. If you suffer from IBS, you no doubt know that a good night's sleep can make a world of difference in how well your digestive system functions the following day. A poor night's sleep, however, can have the complete opposite effect. And, of course, an overactive, underactive, or painful gut can disrupt sleep and make matters even worse.
Sometimes it's difficult to know which came first: poor sleep that triggers IBS symptoms and pain, or IBS symptoms and pain that trigger poor sleep. For many IBS suffers, it's a vicious cycle.
Compounding the problem, insufficient sleep can increase cravings for sugary, high-fat foods and caffeine to help keep you going during the day. But these types of foods can trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms and also interfere with deep, refreshing sleep. They may also cause daytime fatigue as a rebound effect and could even contribute to or worsen insomnia.
Although some people turn to sleep medications, it's not a good idea to use them, especially on a regular basis, and many have side effects that may negatively affect IBS. Instead, try practicing good sleep "hygiene," which means establishing and maintaining useful habits that support nourishing sleep:
Most physicians don't ask patients who have functional bowel disorders about sleep disturbances. Although it's not something you may have thought to mention to your doctor, it's important to discuss it. If your IBS symptoms are disturbing your sleep (or your lack of sleep is making your IBS symptoms worse), your doctor might have additional treatment suggestions that could help improve your overall quality of life. For evidence-based information on sleep health and unbiased product reviews on sleep-related products and more, visit Tuck.com.
Do sleep disturbances plague you? Do you have any additional helpful tips or insights you'd like to share? I love hearing from you! Please post your thoughts in the comment section below.