Sleep Problems

The impact of sleep problems

Sleep problems are common in IBD. They tend to occur more frequently in flares but also occur during remissions. Problems with sleep can reduce quality of life and the ability to cope with IBD pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Sleep problems can also make IBD worse by affecting the immune system.

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Strategies to improve sleep

There are medications that can help promote sleep, but these may have side effects. Also, some IBD patients do not want to take yet another medication. Non-medication options include sleep education, cognitive behaviour therapy, and coping strategies.

Here are some coping strategies for promoting better sleep:

  • Do not try to force yourself to fall asleep. This can actually make insomnia worse.

  • Focus on doing relaxing activities at least one hour before bed.

  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night. Sleeping in late because you could not fall asleep the night before can lead to more insomnia.

  • Do not take naps during the day.

  • Try to exercise each day.

  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime.

  • Avoid working or watching TV in bed.

  • Keep your room dim at night.

  • Keep a sleep journal to see if there are any trends or patterns in your sleep.

  • Consider seeing a sleep specialist.

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