The Association of Insomnia, Perceived Immune Functioning, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Complaints

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J Clin Med


BACKGROUND: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can have a significant negative impact on quality of life, mood and wellbeing. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between experiencing IBS symptoms and insomnia, and perceived health status.

METHOD: An online survey was conducted among n = 1950 Dutch university students (83.6% women). IBS was assessed with the Birmingham IBS Symptom Questionnaire, quality of life with the WHO-5 wellbeing index, and sleep outcomes with the SLEEP-50 questionnaire. Perceived immune functioning and general health were assessed using 1-item scales.

RESULTS: IBS symptom severity was significantly associated with insomnia complaints (r = 0.32, p = 0.0001), sleep quality (r = -0.21, p = 0.0001), sleep onset latency (r = 0.11, p = 0.0001) and the number of nightly awakenings (r = 0.24, p = 0.0001). Total sleep time was not significantly associated with IBS symptom severity. Significant correlations were also found between IBS symptom severity and perceived general health (r = -0.30, p = 0.0001), perceived immune functioning (r= -0.25, p = 0.0001), and quality of life (r = -0.24, p = 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Experiencing IBS complaints is associated with reduced perceived immune functioning, a poorer perception of general health, and sleep disturbances. These effects are reflected in a significantly lower reported quality of life in subjects with more IBS and/or sleep complaints.

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