The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) recognizes December as Constipation Awareness Month.
“Sleeping too much or too little can trigger constipation in a study of nearly 15,000 adults.” according to study author Dr. Adeyinka Adejumo of North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts, US, and colleagues.
There’s also a chance that your GI issues are so intense that they interfere with your sleep. So instead of sleep affecting your GI issues, your GI issues might affect your sleep. For e.g. Waking up in the middle of the night with the urgent need to poop is sure to mess with your sleep.
Sleep has been classified into three categories –
- short (<7 hours),
- normal (7–8 hours), and
- long (>8 hours)
– based on the US National Sleep Foundation standards and bowel pattern as either normal, constipation, or diarrhoea based on stool formed and bowel movements each week.
Types of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can be acute or chronic.
- Acute sleep deprivation refers to no sleep or reduction in the usual total sleep time, usually lasting 1–2 days, with waking time extending beyond the typical 16–18 h.
- Chronic sleep deprivation has been defined by the Third Edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders as a disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness caused by routine sleeping less than the amount required for optimal functioning and health maintenance, almost every day for at least 3 months
Sleep & Constipation Link
To begin with, bowel function is defined as normal, constipation, or diarrhea based on stool form and bowel movements per week.
The research conducted as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 2005–2010 identified 14,590 adults aged 20 years and older. Overall, constipation rates were significantly lower among normal sleepers (8.3%) compared with both short and long-sleepers (11.0% and 12.5%, respectively; P < .0001 for both).
Previous studies had suggested that bowel contraction slows down considerably during sleep. It, therefore, makes sense that sleeping for too long may cause suppressed bowel motility and decreased bowel movement,” Adeyinka Adejumo, MD, of North Shore Medical Center, Salem, Mass., and colleagues wrote in an abstract released as part of the annual Digestive Disease Week. “However, our results showed similar findings among short sleepers. We do not know the exact mechanism of these results. Maybe short sleep resulted in inadequate bowel rest, bowel muscle fatigue, and, subsequently, decreased bowel movement,”
The brain-gut signaling pathways are disrupted among short sleepers, as observed among IBS patients after a poor night’s sleep, resulting in higher constipation.