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Uncovering a Link Between Crohn’s Disease and Lack of Sleep

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Uncovering a Link Between Crohn’s Disease and Lack of Sleep

Jan 23, 2019

When was the last time you experienced continuous deep sleep? For many people, that sounds like a luxury. Sleep disturbances, as well as too little sleep, impact your overall health. Poor sleep can lead to weight gain, a decrease in social and emotional engagement, depression, heart disease and stroke, and reduce your concentration and productivity. While there are several external factors that lead to sleep loss, those suffering from Crohn’s disease may be more prone to regular sleep disturbances.

An Overview of Crohn’s Disease

A chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, and inflammation in other parts of your body. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but treatment can lead you to experience times of remission where you have no symptoms. Depending on the longevity and severity of your symptoms, doctors will categorize the disease as mild, moderate, or severe. It is possible to have a long, normal life with Crohn’s disease, however, there are several ways Crohn’s may impact your day-to-day activity.

Living with Crohn’s Disease

While diet does not cause Crohn’s disease, it can impact the severity of symptoms. In most cases, Crohn’s disease has the greatest impact on the foods you do—and don’t—eat. Greasy foods are linked to flare-ups, as well as milk-based products and foods high in fiber. Many Crohn’s patients are encouraged to eat smaller meals more frequently in order to reduce symptoms. Taking care of your overall health is important as well. Regular doctor appointments and a strong support system are crucial to living a happy, health with Crohn’s disease.

Complications As a Result of Crohn’s

Crohn’s disease can sometimes lead to more dangerous complications like anal fissures, ulcers, bowel obstructions, colon cancer or even malnutrition. A less dangerous but more common complication is sleep disturbance. Taha Qazi, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently performed a study that linked Crohn’s disease to sleep disruptions. Even though more research is required, the study found that the severity of the disease led to less efficient sleep.

In their research, Qazi and colleagues studied the sleep habits of 72 people living with Crohn’s disease with no sleep disorders. For seven nights, each patient was monitored with wrist actigraphy while they slept. The group was divided into three categories according to their disease activity: 28 in remission, 22 with mild disease, and 22 with moderate-to-severe disease. The researchers found that the men and women with moderate-to-severe disease activity spent a long time awake once their sleep was disturbed. Overall, those in remission had more efficient sleep. The group of moderate-to-severe patients experienced more fragmented sleep than the patients in other groups. Good sleep is important to reduce inflammation, improve emotional stability, and reboot your immune system. 

If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and are experiencing a flare-up that impacts your sleep, don’t wait to make an appointment. Our team at Carolina Digestive Health Associates is here to help you. We want to see you live a productive, fulfilling life with Crohn’s disease.