The healing power of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Studies have shown that people with IBD who experience disturbed sleeping patterns are more likely to relapse into periods of digestive distress and symptom flare ups. A solid night’s sleep is the body’s chance to rest and regenerate. It will not only help you to bounce back faster from flare ups, but also to maintain a healthy baseline year-round.

To help you clock up eight hours of blissful slumber each night, we’ve compiled our best ways to get the most out of bedtime:

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In bedrooms all around the world, one image is becoming increasingly common: people lying in bed, flicking through Facebook when they should instead be drifting off to sleep. Smart phones may be great during the day, but at night they serve only to distract you from what you should really be doing – sleeping!

This feeling of always being connected is not a healthy way to approach your time for rest. The fear of missing out has propelled millions to delay sleep in favour of scrolling through a never-ending stream of content. But you should be approaching sleep in the same way you do your IBD – it’s all about listening to what your body is telling you. Your eyelids are feeling heavy but you’re still wasting time on Facebook? Put The Phone Down!

In order to get the most out of your recommended eight hours sleep per night, we suggest turning off push notifications or going all out and switching on the ‘do not disturb’ or ‘airplane’ modes. There’s nothing you can’t catch up on in the morning.

Practice good sleep hygiene

No, we’re not talking about washing your sheets (you should be doing that anyway). Sleep hygiene is all about cleansing the space where your body rests, by removing the obstacles and distractions that prevent you from resting properly

TVs, computers and tablets can all be filed under ‘too distracting for sleep’. Really, if all you need to be doing in the bedroom is sleeping and having sex, clean out everything else that isn’t related to those two activities. Keeping all that ‘living’ stuff out in the living room will tell your digestive system (and brain) that your bedroom is a place of calm

Create a darkened environment that makes rest easy to achieve. LED alarm clocks can be replaced by wind up clocks and heavy blinds or curtains can be used to block out external light. If you’re a reader, try banishing the glow of your iPad to another room and go back to reading paperback books instead.

Develop a ritual

In order to properly prepare your body for sleep, there are a few quick habits you can adopt which will signify that sleep is on the horizon.

Eating dinner earlier in the day can sometimes mean that any unexpected cramps come earlier rather than later, giving you more time to overcome them prior to hitting the hay. Many also find that a soothing herbal tea can settle an upset digestive system, so a regular cuppa (caffeine free, of course) just before bed is a helpful habit to get into.

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. To stay healthy and energised (not to mention hold on to your sanity) you really need to manage both in tandem. So remember, a good night’s sleep isn’t just about keeping you focused and calm, your digestive system needs you to catch some Z’s too.

Date: 22/09/2014 IRIS number AU-REM0328

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