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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