Sleep disturbances and inflammatory bowel disease: a potential trigger for disease flare?

Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2011 Jan;7(1):29-36. doi: 10.1586/eci.10.83.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a waxing and waning disease characterized by diarrhea, abdominal pain and weight loss. Recently, there has been an increased interest in the roles that sleep, circadian rhythms and melatonin could have as regulators of inflammation in the Gl tract. Advances in our understanding of the molecular machinery of the circadian clock, and the discovery of clock genes in the GI tract are opening up new avenues of research for a role of sleep in IBD. Altering circadian rhythm significantly worsens the development of colitis in animal models, and preliminary human studies have shown that patients with IBD are at increased risk for altered sleep patterns. Further research is needed to clarify the role of disturbances in IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / etiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology
  • Crohn Disease / etiology
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology


  • Melatonin