Sleep and IBS: What’s the connection?

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Poor sleep and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often go hand-in-hand. In fact, people with sleep disturbances are about one and a half times more likely to have some degree of IBS than people without sleep troubles. So what’s the connection between IBS and sleep? While we don’t yet know the exact relationship, we do know that it’s a cyclical issue. 

The role of behavioral health

Anxiety, depression, and stress are known triggers for both IBS and for poor sleep. Often, these triggers cause IBS symptoms – such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, or cramping – which lead to frequent waking during the night and can ruin a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep, in turn, can increase visceral hypersensitivity and cause IBS symptoms to worsen the next day, and so the cycle begins. 

Diet choices, IBS symptoms, and sleep

Dietary factors can also play a role in the IBS-sleep cycle. For example, caffeine can exacerbate some IBS symptoms and, on its own, can also interfere with sleep. Similarly, eating fatty foods late at night can increase IBS symptoms, causing poor sleep. And when we’re tired, we tend to make poor food choices, reaching for processed, sugary or carbohydrate-dense foods that provide a quick hit of energy but may worsen IBS symptoms. Again, the vicious cycle between IBS and poor sleep continues. 

Breaking the cycle

The key to breaking the cycle between IBS and poor sleep is to focus on a whole-person approach – one that reduces stress and anxiety, addresses any underlying depression, and creates dietary and lifestyle changes to support both IBS improvements and good sleep hygiene. With Oshi Health, you get access to a full team of GI providers – including a GI Behavioral Health Provider, GI Registered Dietitian, GI Health Coach, and more – who work with you to address these underlying issues and create sustainable changes to help you feel and sleep better. 

Good sleep hygiene is important for managing IBS symptoms, but the key is to know yourself and your body. If you’re ready to get support and start feeling better, sign up for Oshi Health and get seen right away by a dedicated care team.

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