Effects of disturbed sleep on gastrointestinal and somatic pain symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome

A. Patel, S. Hasak, B. Cassell, M. A. Ciorba, E. E. Vivio, M. Kumar, C. Prakash Gyawali, G. S. Sayuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Sleep disturbances are common, and perhaps are even more prevalent in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Aims: To determine the effect of measured sleep on IBS symptoms the following day, IBS-specific quality of life (IBS-QOL) and non-GI pain symptoms. Methods: IBS patients' sleep patterns were compared to healthy individuals via wrist-mounted actigraphy over 7 days. Daily bowel pain logs (severity, distress; 10-point Likert) stool pattern (Bristol scale) and supporting symptoms (e.g. bloating, urgency; 5-point Likert) were kept. Validated measures, including the GI Symptom Rating Scale-IBS, Visceral Sensitivity Index, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the IBS-Quality of Life were collected. Mediation analysis explored the relationship between sleep, mood and bowel symptoms. Results: Fifty subjects (38.6 ± 1.0 years old, 44 female; 24 IBS and 26 healthy controls) completed sleep monitoring. IBS patients slept more hours per day (7.7 ± 0.2 vs. 7.1 ± 0.1, P = 0.008), but felt less well-rested. IBS patients demonstrated more waking episodes during sleep (waking episodes; 12.1 vs. 9.3, P < 0.001). Waking episodes predicted worse abdominal pain (P ≤ 0.01) and GI distress (P < 0.001), but not bowel pattern or accessory IBS symptoms (P > 0.3 for each). Waking episodes negatively correlated with general- and IBS-specific QOL in IBS (r = −0.58 and −0.52, P < 0.001 for each). Disturbed sleep effects on abdominal pain were partially explained by mood as an intermediate. Conclusions: Sleep disturbances are more common in irritable bowel syndrome, and correlate with IBS-related pain, distress and poorer irritable bowel syndrome-related quality of life. Disturbed sleep effects extend beyond the bowel, leading to worse mood and greater somatic pain in patients with the irritable bowel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-258
Number of pages13
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


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