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How poor sleep quality affects IBD

How poor sleep quality affects IBD

Updated on
November 12, 2023
Medical reviewer
Medically reviewed by
Brittany Rogers, MS, RDN
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Written by
Romanwell Dietitians

How common is poor sleep quality in IBD?

Studies estimate that more than 50% of people with IBD (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and microscopic colitis) experience poor sleep quality.1 If you have active disease (you have inflammation in your GI tract), you’re more likely to experience poor sleep quality than those in remission.2 In a recent study of 312 adults with IBD, 50% of people reported clinically significant insomnia. Of the study participants experiencing poor sleep quality, 31% met the clinical criteria for two or more sleep disorders.3

How does poor sleep affect people with IBD?

Poor sleep quality has been associated with a worse quality of life and increased chances of having active disease.4,5 People who experience poor sleep quality in clinical remission (when you don’t have symptoms but still have inflammation), are more likely to have a relapse, or flare up of symptoms, within the next 6-months.6 

In a recent study, Crohn’s disease patients reporting poor sleep quality (a score of 8 or more as measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were more likely to require surgery and hospitalization than those with a sleep quality score less than or equal to 8.7


Tips to improve your sleep quality

Common sleep hygiene techniques may help improve your sleep quality include:8

  • Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime
  • Avoiding nicotine
  • Avoiding alcohol before bed
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing stress throughout the day
  • Reducing bedroom noise 
  • Going to bed at a regular time each night
  • Avoiding daytime naps

How our clients improve their sleep quality

In addition to diet, we also help our clients improve their sleep quality as part of our program. 

82% of our clients who completed our program reported significant improvements in their sleep quality within 3-6 months. 

Of those with sleep quality scores above 8 at the beginning of the program, 80% were able to reduce their sleep quality scores below 8 by the end of the program. 

If you’re interested in improving your sleep quality along with your diet, consider working with an IBD dietitian or request a call to learn if our program is right for you.


We can help you reduce your symptoms without a restrictive diet
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brittany rogers rd


  1. Kinnucan JA, Rubin DT, Ali T. Sleep and inflammatory bowel disease: exploring the relationship between sleep disturbances and inflammation. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2013 Nov;9(11):718-27. PMID: 24764789; PMCID: PMC3995194.
  2. Ballesio A, Zagaria A, Baccini F, Micheli F, Di Nardo G, Lombardo C. A meta-analysis on sleep quality in inflammatory bowel disease. Sleep Med Rev. 2021 Dec;60:101518. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101518. Epub 2021 Jun 17. PMID: 34214847.
  3. Salwen-Deremer JK, Smith MT, Haskell HG, Schreyer C, Siegel CA. Poor Sleep in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Is Reflective of Distinct Sleep Disorders. Dig Dis Sci. 2022 Jul;67(7):3096-3107. doi: 10.1007/s10620-021-07176-y. Epub 2021 Jul 30. PMID: 34331174.
  4. Ali T, Madhoun MF, Orr WC, Rubin DT. Assessment of the relationship between quality of sleep and disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013 Oct;19(11):2440-3. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0b013e3182a0ea54. PMID: 23945186.
  5. Qazi T, Farraye FA. Sleep and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: An Important Bi-Directional Relationship. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2019 Apr 11;25(5):843-852. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izy334. PMID: 30388243.
  6. Ananthakrishnan AN, Long MD, Martin CF, Sandler RS, Kappelman MD. Sleep disturbance and risk of active disease in patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Aug;11(8):965-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.01.021. Epub 2013 Feb 1. PMID: 23376797; PMCID: PMC3659204.
  7. Sofia MA, Lipowska AM, Zmeter N, Perez E, Kavitt R, Rubin DT. Poor Sleep Quality in Crohn's Disease Is Associated With Disease Activity and Risk for Hospitalization or Surgery. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2020 Jul 17;26(8):1251-1259. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izz258. PMID: 31820780; PMCID: PMC7365809.
  8. Irish LA, Kline CE, Gunn HE, Buysse DJ, Hall MH. The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep Med Rev. 2015 Aug;22:23-36. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001. Epub 2014 Oct 16. PMID: 25454674; PMCID: PMC4400203.

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