For those living with Crohn’s or Colitis, sleep can be a major struggle - especially when in a flare. It can be difficult for individuals to fall asleep, stay asleep, or feel well rested after a night of trips to the bathroom.
Why is sleep especially important if you have IBD?
Sleep is vital for everyone’s health. However, when living with IBD, it is even more important to get a good sleep. Sleep helps our bodies recover, become stronger and heal. When an individual is experiencing a flare, sleeping provides a crucial period of time to rest. However, since IBD flares can often involve frequent trips to the bathroom, sleep isn’t always achieved in the way that it should be.
Tips for Better Sleep if you have Crohn’s or Colitis
Get on the right medication
Some medications, such as steroids, can make sleep very difficult. If you think your medication may be interfering with your sleep, speak with your GP about adjustments that can be made. Using a medication tracker and sleep tracker to record the impact of your medications on your sleep can be a useful way of recording data that you can then share with your GP.
Additionally, you may want to speak with your GP about potential sleep aids that could help you get a better sleep. As many individuals are awake during the night due to symptoms such as diarrhoea, speaking to your GP about diarrhoea medications may be a helpful conversation to have.
2. Try a calming herbal infusion before bed
Certain relaxing and digestive herbal infusions can help ease you into a good sleep and settle your stomach. For example, chamomile, mint and lavender – rather than teas that contain caffeine and may make your sleep worse.
3. Stay cool at night
Night sweats can disturb your sleep. Staying cool during the night can help to reduce the occurrence of them. Wear light clothes and use light bedding layers to avoid overheating. Also, taking a cool shower before bed can keep you cool during the night and also help to relax you as you fall asleep.
4. Eat big meals earlier
To avoid late night indigestion that can disturb your sleep, try to eat larger meals earlier in the day. Also, ensure that your last meal is had at least an hour before bed and that it doesn’t include anything that is difficult to digest (for example, fried or spicy foods!).
5. Keep daytime naps short
If you are taking naps throughout the day to catch up on rest, try to limit their duration to 30 minutes and aim for them to be earlier in the day. This will help you be tired at the end of the day and will help to improve your sleep.
Although you may not be able to achieve a ‘perfect sleep’, we hope that these tips do help to improve your sleeping experience.
If you are looking for a helpful digital tool, take the Sleep Course in the My IBD Care app. The course aims to help you improve your sleep and includes different activities, videos and audio tools for you to try out.
Have questions about the Sleep Course? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to chat with you.
Track sleep (and other factors) to minimise IBD flare-ups
Alongside the tips in this article, you can find more advice and track your sleep, plus other factors like diet and medication, that will help you to minimise IBD flare-ups in the My IBD Care app.