Sleep and IBS. Does losing sleep make Irritable Bowel Syndrome worse?

Turner - Canine Executive Officer of HelpForIBS.com
Nap time with Turner, CEO of Heather's Tummy Care
(Canine Executive Officer)

  • Sleep - more precisely, not enough of it - is a physical body stressor.

  • Stress of any kind inhibits the parasympathetic nervous system, and stimulates excessive adrenaline production, which upsets the rhythmic muscle contractions of the gut. This triggers IBS symptoms.

  • Double whammy. Lack of sleep causes not just fatigue but a lower stress-tolerance level on top of that.

  • Upshot? When you're tired, IBS is much more likely to flare.

  • There's a direct link between morning IBS symptoms and quality of the previous night's sleep.

  • What helps? Keep a consistent bedtime and morning alarm time. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

  • If you can get 9 or 10 (I know, impossible for many people), your body might really thank you.

  • If you're tired, go to bed earlier than usual. Sleep in on weekends if you need to catch up.

  • Take cat naps (or dog naps!) whenever possible.

  • Keep your bedroom as cool, dark, and quiet as possible. All three factors make a big difference in how deeply and how long you sleep.

  • Adapt your work or school schedule to accommodate your sleep needs as much as possible and practical.

  • If you consistently have trouble falling asleep, or awaken at night with IBS symptoms, check the First Year IBS for comprehensive information and help.

Tip Takeaway: Getting deep sleep - and enough of it - is a key factor to keeping IBS under control. Do everything you can to get the quantity and quality of sleep you need for your health and life.

See all IBS Quick Tips!


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