Tomorrow’s big meeting, today’s missed appointments, endless kid concerns—life’s stressors can keep us all from getting a good night’s sleep. Add wrenching gut pain and multiple, middle-of-the-night bathroom trips that come with ulcerative colitis (UC), and consistent, quality shuteye may seem impossible to get. Sleep is essential, not only for overall health but to help combat this chronic condition.
Researchers are studying how sleep disturbances, immune function, and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) may be related to UC, says Eugene F. Yen, M.D., clinical director at the Center for Crohn’s and Colitis at the NorthShore IBD Center in Evanston, Ill. “We know that sleep disturbance can worsen flare-ups and decrease a person’s threshold to cope, due to pain and fatigue.” In other words, a flare-up can ruin your sleep—yet lack of sleep can prevent your body from healing. How do you stop the vicious UC cycle? Follow these steps.