Sleep is food for the soul

The healing power of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A solid night’s sleep is your body’s chance to rest and regenerate. In fact, studies have shown that people with Crohn’s disease who experience disturbed sleeping patterns are more likely to relapse.1 To help you clock up eight hours of blissful slumber every night, here are a few things to consider.

Log out

Are you reading this on your smart phone in bed? If you are, put it down and rest your eyes. Scrolling through a never-ending stream of pointless Facebook posts and pictures isn’t a smart way to relax.

Approach your sleep in the same way you manage your IBD by listening to your body when it is tired. Switch off your phone, or at least put your phone on ‘do not disturb’, and get the recommended eight hours of sleep. There’s nothing you can’t catch up on in the morning. Are you still reading? Go to sleep!

Declutter your sleep

Your bedroom is your haven. It is meant to be a harmonious place where you can unwind and recharge your batteries, free of obstacles and distractions that prevent you from relaxing.

TVs, computers, tablets, phones, fidget spinners, game consoles, and pets all belong in your lounge room. Your bedroom is for sleep, intimacy, and curling up with a good paperback book – nothing else.

We also recommend having crisp, clean sheets, a darkened room, and heavy blinds to block out the noise.

Develop a ritual

To properly prepare your body for sleep, there are a few simple habits you can adopt that will get you ready for bed.

Eating dinner earlier can sometimes mean that any unexpected cramps come earlier rather than later, giving you more time to overcome them prior to going to bed. Many people also find a soothing herbal tea can settle an upset tummy, so a warm caffeine-free cuppa just before bed is a great habit to adopt.

The relationship between a healthy night’s sleep and your IBD is a cyclical one – as soon as one is negatively affected, it has a flow-on effect with the other. So, remember, a good night’s sleep isn’t just about keeping you focused and calm, your digestive system needs some rest too.

What should I do if I'm having trouble sleeping?

Reference: 1. Kinnucan J, Rubin D and Ali T. Gastroenterol Hepatol 2013; 9: 719–727.