IBS Symptoms Worse after a Restless Nights Sleep for Women

Last Editorial Review: 5/15/2002

According to researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle, a poor night's sleep for women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can mean more than the usual gastrointestinal symptoms the following day.

For the study, 82 women with IBS and 35 women without IBS kept a record of their daily sleep habits and digestive symptoms for about 5 weeks (two menstrual cycles). They rated the severity of sleep disturbances such as trouble falling asleep, restless or disturbed sleep, early awakening, and insomnia, and the severity of IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and gas.

The results indicate that for women with IBS, a poor night's sleep leads to more gastrointestinal symptoms the next day. The findings remained the same when the researchers controlled for psychological distress and stress. Why the quality of sleep would affect digestive symptoms in women with IBS is unclear, but it could be related to a disturbance in the autonomic or central nervous systems that affects both sleep and gastrointestinal function.

The study was published in the May 2000 issue of Digestive Diseases and Sciences. Other researchers have found similar results in previous studies.

For more information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, please visit the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Center.

Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health (www.niddk.nih.gov)

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