Posted on 26 Aug 2020
Ampersand Health has been investigating the relationship between sleep and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, working with experts to understand energy, sleep, inflammation and how they interact in IBD.
Is poor sleep with IBD inevitable?
‘In the general population, roughly 30 out of every 100 adults complains of poor sleep. One study found that for every 100 patients living with Crohn’s or Colitis, 49 of those with inactive disease complained of poor sleep, increasing to 77 of those experiencing a flare. So poor sleep IS more likely if you’re living with IBD, but crucially, it’s NOT inevitable, even in the midst of a flare. With the right knowledge, attitude, beliefs and behavioural tools, your sleep really doesn’t have to get you down.’ – Sophie Bostock, Sleep Expert.
The relationship between sleep and inflammation is a two-way street. Taking your medication to reduce inflammation may help improve your sleep. Research also suggests that improving your sleep, could potentially reduce the inflammatory burden, and make your condition easier to manage.
Helping those with IBD to improve their sleep
In November 2019, we ran a workshop with Sophie Bostock to understand the experience of sleep for those living with IBD and to offer advice on what could help.
After a phone consultation with Sophie, participants tracked their sleep using a sleep diary for a week. Sophie then ran a My IBD Care sleep workshop, where she shared vital techniques for improving sleep and helped people understand their sleep cycles and patterns.
It was evident that sleep and energy levels can be problematic living with IBD, and we know from our survey, with 149 people, that 75% said they experience fatigue with their IBD ‘most of the time’ or ‘all of the time’. There are many factors that influence fatigue, and sleep is one of those.
Since this workshop, we have been developing sleep courses within the My IBD Care app to try and help people with their sleep. Alongside Sophie, we share how those living with IBD can improve their sleep, enhancing wellbeing and control over their condition.
My IBD Care Sleep Courses
Our Sleep series consists of 4 courses. These courses are led by sleep expert, Sophie Bostock.
They are designed to help you re-think sleep, learning how it interacts with IBD and helping you to improve how you sleep. You can even keep a digital sleep diary and see how your sleep changes on your weekly report.
Courses to try…
- Sleep Basics (Full 28 day sleep improvement course)
- Sleep and IBD (6-day course on how sleep in IBD works)
- Stress, Sleep and IBD (6-day course on how stress, IBD and sleep interact)
- Sleep and Anxiety (4-day course on managing anxiety for your sleep)
An extra spanner in the works
The past few months have been tough and uncertainty of it all prompts anxious feelings.
In the height of lockdown and shielding, we conducted research with 50 users of our app to explore feelings of anxiety. The survey indicated that the group had a mean score of 6.64 on the GAD-7 scale, which falls within the ‘Moderate’ category for general anxiety. An approximate 60.8% reported that they felt nervous, anxious or on edge in the past two weeks, and 50% felt as though something awful could happen. Notably, 70.6% of our sample felt moderately or highly anxious about the current situation specifically.
In response to this, we felt a need to create something that may help someone manage their anxiety. Sleep and mental health are very intricately interlinked and by managing anxiety, it can help improve how you sleep. Taking action to manage anxiety and protect your sleep can improve health and wellbeing and may even help someone stay in remission for longer.
New Sleep and Anxiety course on My IBD Care
In collaboration with Sophie, My IBD Care released a new Sleep and Anxiety short course. This is a 4-day course to help those with IBD to manage the impact of anxiety on sleep.
What the Sleep and Anxiety course covers?
- Sleeping with Uncertainty and IBD
- 5 Simple Ways to Wellbeing, Less Worry and Better Sleep
- Sleep, anxiety and your smartphone: how much is too much?
- Kicking anxiety out of bed
This course is perfect for trying within your 7-day free trial of Lifestyle and Wellbeing courses on My IBD Care.
What others are saying
‘We know that sleep and anxiety have a crucial role to play in IBD. We also know that during this Coronavirus pandemic, levels of anxiety and insomnia are higher than they’ve ever been before. So give this course a go, we hope you enjoy it and get some benefit from it.’ – Dr Gareth Parkes, Consultant Gastroenterologist.
‘I’m on the sleep one that’s quite good. I suffer from insomnia quite a lot and I had already completed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy through the NHS. And it’s very similar to what I learned on that but I really like the questions that you ask in the app. I think they’re quite helpful and having the app remind me daily to go on and do these tasks and think about, and watch the little videos and read the information – it’s quite handy.’ – Rachel, 24, Crohn’s Disease. Completed 28-day Sleep Basics course.
‘This course has helped me re-think the importance of my sleep habits and I’ve noticed an increase in energy levels that I want to sustain!’ – Lia, 33, Crohn’s Disease. Completed 28-day Sleep Basics course.
‘Sometimes you just need someone to help you out with ideas on how to de-stress!’ – Michelle, 39, Crohn’s Disease. Completed 6-day Stress, Sleep and IBD course.
Download the My IBD Care app
Get the My IBD Care app today and get access to all our sleep courses, plus sleep tracking and other features that will help you to self-manage your IBD.