Sleep Disturbances and Crohn's Disease

Posted by Darian Dozier on Jan 4, 2022 8:00:00 AM

Add a heading-Sep-19-2021-02-24-46-63-PM

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause enormous discomfort for those who are affected. This discomfort can roll over and become a sleep issue. Without proper sleep, the body is unable to recover from all the damage done to it throughout the day, especially by the inflammatory molecules that may be seen in inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's. Therefore, it's imperative for increased comfort and recovery that individuals with Crohn's find a way to get better sleep. Below is some more information on Crohn's and some steps to take if you're having trouble sleeping.  

What is Crohn's Disease 

Crohn's disease is one of a couple of diseases categorized as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These are diseases of the digestive tract that involve diffuse inflammation. These inflammatory processes can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and unintentional weight loss.

Crohn's disease is patchy inflammation meaning that random parts of the digestive tract are impacted which can make treatment very difficult. The cause of Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases has not yet been established, however, current research is pointing to a genetic predisposition to an autoimmune disease. This means that genetics are influencing the development of this disease which causes the body's immune system to carry out an attack on it's own tissues. 

Management of Crohn's Disease includes proper diet and lifestyle changes. Occasionally, medication may also provide some relief, however, that's a physician's call due to the irritable nature of the gastrointestinal tissues. Also, many of these medications treat inflammation, but not all of the symptoms associated with it. 

How can Crohn's Disease interfere with sleep

Due to the irritable and uncomfortable nature of Crohn's disease, sleep can be severely affected. A recent study looked at the quality and length of sleep in patients with Crohn's disease. They found that Crohn's patients had overall worse sleep quality and quantity than those without Crohn's disease. They slept less efficiently and stayed awake longer at night which was affecting their quality of life. 

Crohn's disease presents itself in flares, meaning that there are times when the disease acts up and causes extreme discomfort while other times, the disease is fairly mild or inactive. During an active flare, the severity of the symptoms can impact sleep quality because of how uncomfortable one with Crohn's can feel. Discomfort of any kind, especially internal, can negatively affect one's ability to go to sleep and stay asleep. 

When one is not having an active Crohn's flare up, just the anxiety of having one can make going to sleep hard. Those with severe disease may have extreme difficulty going to bed because they know how bad their flare ups can be and the negative effect it can have on their sleep. This stress and anxiety interferes with sleep which causes sleep deprivation, which can further influence feelings of stress and anxiety. 

The dangers of sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a dangerous condition to have. The recommended number of hours of sleep for adults is 7-8. Any less sleep than that and the body is not getting the rest it needs to repair from the previous day and prepare for the coming day. 

Sleep deprivation can severely impact your ability to concentrate and focus on tasks, including driving, which can lead to car accidents. Sleep deprivation can also have a negative impact on your mental and physical well-being. You can be more prone to injuries and you may experience feelings of depression and anxiety due to the lack of sleep. 

Our bodies and brains need sleep to thrive and anything that disturbs that process can lead to significant impairments in daily functioning. 

What patients with Crohn's Disease can do to improve sleep

If you have Crohn's and have trouble sleeping, then it is important to speak with your doctor about these issues. Many medications given to individuals with Crohn's disease do not help with sleep. So if you are requiring a nighttime aid, then that is something to bring up with your physician. 

Other non-medicinal interventions include establishing a better routine for a better night of sleep, creating a pro-sleep environment, and trying methods to destress before bed. All of these interventions aim to train your body and brain when it's time to go to bed.

Also, if you can learn to reduce your stress levels, then you may be able to reduce the irritability of your Crohn's disease. It's an inflammatory process and stress hormones upregulate those inflammatory molecules. So if you can find ways to reduce your stress overall, especially before you go to bed, then you may set yourself up for a good night of sleep. 

If you are still having trouble getting a good night's sleep, even after trying different approaches, then please click the orange button below and take a free online sleep test and speak with one of our professionals. 

Take a Free Online Sleep Test



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