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5 Tips for Better Sleep When Living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Community Conversations

October 28, 2021

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by Elinor Hills

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Jennifer Chesak

Fact Checked

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•••••

by Elinor Hills

•••••

Jennifer Chesak

Fact Checked

•••••

•••••

A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by during a flare. Bezzy IBD members share five tips for sleeping soundly.

Difficulty sleeping might not be the first symptom that comes to mind when talking about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but it’s actually common.

A 2020 study surveyed 166 people with IBD and found that about 2 in 3 reported problems with sleep.

Symptoms of IBD, such as pain, anxiety, nausea, and frequent bathroom trips, can make it challenging to get to sleep and remain asleep.

Not only is poor quality sleep common among people living with IBD, but it can also have a significant impact on disease progression.

Not getting enough sleep can worsen fatigue during the day and can weaken your immune function. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in inflammatory cytokine activity. Cytokines play a significant role in intestinal inflammation, and an increase in cytokine activity can cause or worsen a flare-up.

Poor sleep and IBD flare-ups can create a distressing cycle. But there are steps you can take to improve your sleep quality, and possibly manage your IBD symptoms in the process.

Here, members of the Bezzy IBD community share advice for getting better sleep with IBD, even during a flare-up.

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Connect with thousands of members and find support through daily live chats, curated resources, and one-to-one messaging.

Try a handful of nuts as a nighttime snack

”I find eating a handful of mixed nuts, especially almonds and Brazil nuts, seems to bump up my magnesium levels, which helps me sleep. I also read to calm my mind.” — Eagleman76

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Shift your sleep schedule earlier

“I find sleeping and waking up early keeps me fresher than sleeping and waking up late, even though I sleep for the same amount of time.” — Suarav

Create a relaxing space

“As far as sleep goes, I’m a big fan of turning on some sort of white noise or relaxing music along with putting a few drops of essential oils in my diffuser. Then, I take melatonin gummies and wait for sleep to find me. Sometimes, I can go without the gummies.” — Yaereed89

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Find a routine

“I have found a nighttime routine that helps me to go to sleep without worries. For example, I make sure my pillows and bedding are just right, I put on a fan that blows on me, and I turn on an audiobook. (Right now I’m listening to ‘The Henna Artist.’) As soon as I start to drift off, I just hit pause.“ — Grace82

Don’t feel guilty about prioritizing sleep

“The minute you feel like you’d be able to nod off, especially if it’s a rough gut day, just go to bed! Staying up gives me that ‘second wind’, [and] then it’s more difficult to fall asleep later.

“Another tip: If you are sensitive to noise or light or temperature, adjust these things 30 minutes before you go to bed. Similarly, if you have a partner who snores like a freight train, sleep in different rooms or areas of the house until the flare has passed. Reassurance may be needed to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt.

“Remember that proper self-care, starting with quality sleep, is necessary. When it is lacking, poor sleep can lead to further health problems.” — LLu

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The bottom line

Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is frustrating. When you live with IBD, it can feel like poor sleep is making your symptoms more severe but, at the same time, your symptoms are what makes sleeping feel nearly impossible.

Prioritizing high quality sleep is essential, especially when you live with a chronic condition. Not only can better habits improve your IBD symptoms and make disease management easier, but getting more sleep also has the potential to improve your quality of life overall.

Whether you’re looking for more tips about creating an effective bedtime routine or you’re looking for someone to chat with when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m. during a flare-up, the Bezzy IBD community is here for you.

Article originally appeared on October 28, 2021 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last fact checked on October 28, 2021.


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About the author

Elinor Hills

Elinor Hills has an MSc in Medical Anthropology and is passionate about the intersection of emotional well-being and physical health. Outside of work, she is an avid runner and enjoys yoga, photography, and drawing.

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