Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Immune Fitness, and Insomnia: Results from an Online Survey Among People Reporting Sleep Complaints

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Sleep and Vigilance


Objectives: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and insomnia symptoms are often found to occur together. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between sleep and IBS complaints, and their impact on reported health and daytime functioning. Methods: An online advertisement invited people with difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep to participate in an online survey. Sleep characteristics were assessed and the Birmingham IBS Symptoms Questionnaire was completed, including subscales on IBS-related constipation, pain, and diarrhoea. Perceived immune functioning and general health were self-rated and the lapses subscale of the Manchester Driver Behaviour Questionnaire was completed as a proxy of daytime functioning. Results: Significant associations were found between sleep symptoms and IBS-related constipation, pain, and diarrhoea reports. Most sleep variables were negatively affected in subjects reporting IBS complaints, as reflected in patients reporting poorer sleep quality and less satisfaction with their sleep pattern. The associations with sleep difficulties were most pronounced for IBS-related pain. Being a woman, of younger age, and having an insomnia diagnosis were factors that were associated with having significantly more severe IBS symptoms. The association with IBS was significant for the severity of difficulty falling asleep, but not for the severity of difficulty maintaining sleep. Conclusion: There is a clear relationship between sleep, perceived health, and IBS complaints. The association with IBS complaints was significant for difficulty falling asleep, but not for difficulty maintaining sleep, which may have implications for the combined treatment of sleep difficulties and IBS-related pain.





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