Poor Sleep in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Is Reflective of Distinct Sleep Disorders

Dig Dis Sci. 2022 Jul;67(7):3096-3107. doi: 10.1007/s10620-021-07176-y. Epub 2021 Jul 30.


Background: Poor sleep is common in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), predicting increased risk of flares, surgery, and/or hospitalization and reducing quality of life.

Aims: To profile specific sleep disorder symptoms in IBD, informing intervention efforts.

Methods: 312 adults with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis were recruited from an academic medical center in New Hampshire, USA. Participants completed online surveys about sleep including well-validated measures of sleep quality, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythms. Participants also answered questions about IBD-related problems that could interfere with sleep.

Results: 69.4% of participants reported experiencing poor sleep and 50% reported clinically significant insomnia. Participants with active IBD symptoms were more likely to have poor sleep and insomnia. Of those with poor sleep, 67.8% met the clinical threshold for insomnia disorder and 31.3% met criteria for two or more sleep disorders. IBD-related sleep disruptions (e.g., nighttime awakenings due to bowel movements) were not significantly related to poor sleep quality, but significantly related to insomnia severity for participants with active Crohn's disease.

Conclusions: While poor sleep in IBD is reflective of a number of different sleep problems, it is most frequently related to insomnia. IBD symptom severity contributes to insomnia, but insomnia is also distinct from IBD-related sleep disruptions. Future research on the treatment of insomnia disorder in particular in individuals with IBD is warranted.

Keywords: Colitis; Crohn’s disease; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Sleep; sleep disorders; ulcerative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / complications
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease* / complications
  • Crohn Disease* / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / complications
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / complications
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / etiology