Is IBS Affected By Your Sleep?

A poor night's sleep can leave us feeling a little loopy the next day. Aside from feeling lethargic and short on energy, research shows that a lack of sleep might also negatively impact our gut health. In a 2019 study published in PLoS ONE, researchers determined that participants who got adequate amounts of sleep had a stronger, healthier gut microbiome. But for those with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can a missed night of sleep exacerbate symptoms?

As a chronic condition, those with IBS often experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort, amongst other symptoms, as per the Mayo Clinic. Genes can increase one's chances of developing the condition. For those diagnosed, external factors such as food and stress can aggravate symptoms. 

As for quality of sleep, IBS can make getting a good night's rest difficult. Those with the condition are more likely to experience sleep disturbances due to a need to use the bathroom (via Verywell Health). As it turns out, the relationship may also work in the opposite direction. In addition to IBS affecting our sleep, our sleep might also affect IBS.

Night shift workers may be at an increased risk for IBS

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that participants diagnosed with IBS who reported having a poor night's sleep were more likely to experience increased abdominal pain, anxiety, and fatigue the following day.

Interestingly, these results proved similar to those of other studies examining the risk of IBS in night shift workers. Research published in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology cited two studies in particular. In the first study, it was found that resident physicians working overnight were 32% more likely to develop IBS with every progressive hour of sleep lost. A second study found overall higher prevalence rates of IBS in those who worked rotating night shifts compared to day shift workers.

While a night spent tossing and turning may be a precursor to a day of IBS symptoms, experts at Verywell Health explain that the opposite does not appear to be true. Having a day of aggravated IBS symptoms has not been linked to a poor upcoming night of sleep.