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IBS and Sleep: how to prevent lack of sleep from causing diarrhoea

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 07, 2012 at 9:07 PM

This isn't a strictly paleo question; it's got very little to do with food or the paleo lifestyle in general. But because a lot of people on this site seem to know quite a few things about digestive disorders, I would like to ask it anyway.

I am recovering from Crohn's and now only have IBS-like symtoms, which are quite manageable in general. I actually have very little abdominal pain and diarrhoea anymore in ideal circumstances. When I have to wake up early or just don't have my normal nine hours of sleep, it's not that good. Even when I sleep slightly less (let's say 8 hours), I feel worse. When I sleep a whole lot less (let's say six hours), I have a lot of abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

I know about the effect of the lack of sleep on IBS (http://ibs.about.com/b/2009/07/08/ibs-and-sleep.htm and many others if you google it) and I try to sleep enough, which usually works just fine. But sometimes, I just have to wake up early and I will have a lack of sleep that day. Then it causses diarrhoea and abdominal pain and my digestive system will remain upset for a couple of days.

I could take Imodium (which I used to do), but that seems too strong (it actually causes constipation and does little about the abdominal pain) and I'm not a big fan of it anyways. Does anyone know how to prevent this diarrhoea and abdominal pain from occurring when having a mild lack of sleep? I definitely want to prevent waking up early from creating chaos in my whole digestive system that takes days (sometimes up to a week) to 'reset'.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: one thing I do is beginning to go to bed earlier a few days (and then consequently waking up earlier day after day) in advance to minimize the effects, but I can never prevent diarrhoea only by using this 'little trick' (it seems to reduce it, because the lack of sleep isn't that bad, but it doesn't make it go away altogether). Of course, I could start using this trick weeks in advance so that waking up early seems normal to my body (so that it doesn't cause diarrhoea), but that seems a little bit over-the-top and isn't always possible anyways.

EDIT2: could it have something to do with melatonin. I've noticed there are some studies mentioning melatonin in relation with IBS...

EDIT3: maybe I should also add that I feel extremely tired when I sleep less. If I sleep 7 hours instead of my usual 9, I feel tired all day and am horribly unproductive. So it's actually more than just a digestive problem. Maybe that' something worth mentioning...

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 23, 2012
at 07:00 PM

I haven't found the printout yet, but this looks very similar to what I remember: http://www.healthreviser.com/content/body-clock-and-health

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 23, 2012
at 06:55 PM

It was a print out from a holistic nutritionist, she included Ayervedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine in her practice. I'll see if I can find it.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 23, 2012
at 01:47 PM

"I once read some woo woo thing about the order in which the body is healed during sleep and the gut is the last in line, so if you wake early the gut hasn't been properly restored, I kinda believe it." do you know where you read that? You've caught my attention here.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 23, 2012
at 01:46 PM

I already take vitamin D supplements, and I believe those have helped (although it's hard to know whether it's the vitamin D or another factor; I've tried many things).

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 23, 2012
at 01:44 PM

@James Yes, I don't think I sleep too much or so, but when I sleep 6 hours just once, so with no sleep deprivation before that, a healthy person will barely feel that @Kelly I do know it often occurs. My own hypothesis is that these 'hormonal changes' also occur in healthy people, but that they just don't manifest itself, simply because their intestines can deal with it.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on June 22, 2012
at 02:07 PM

I have noticed for years that if I get less than 6 hours of sleep I wake up horribly gassy. Everyone thought I was nuts. But it was totally true. Unfortunately I never figured out any way to fix the issue, but I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 22, 2012
at 03:01 AM

id say 9 hours is the normal optimal amount of sleep. Cleansing waves happen more at night, dunno if thats relevant..

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:38 AM

@ Jill Glad it helped you. Sleep is very important, and even more so for people who are ill (especially digestive problems).

5c94900002a867dfa2a8fcd91a576c5e

(456)

on June 08, 2012
at 03:30 AM

Thank you for this question. I have difficulty sleeping 2-3 nights a week and have diarrhea 2-3 times a week. I never made the correlation, but now that I'm thinking back on this past week I definitely see the connection. Prior to paleo (4 months ago) I had tons of undiagnosed digestive issues and difficulty sleeping was much more frequent. I have no solution to offer you (sorry!), but am grateful for the lightbulb that just went off in my head.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 07, 2012
at 11:09 PM

Yes, that could be a solution. I actually said I don't like taking it because I'm looking for more constructive solutions so that I can avoid the problems altogether in the long-term. But for those few occasions I do have to wake up early, I could possible take just half a pill. I just hope I'll find a more 'permanent' solution in the long-term. It's not that uncommon that people are at least affected by how much hours they sleep, I believe. It's just that it seems to affect me more than the average IBS sufferer.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 07, 2012
at 11:04 PM

wow, sorry for that! I've never heard of lack of sleep causing it. That sucks! You literally have to plan your schedule out to avoid issues. How about using less immodium (like a 1/2 tablet) instead? I know you said you didnt like taking it but maybe helpful.....wish I had something of value to add

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 07, 2012
at 10:43 PM

Yes, I'm saying that the main cause is lack of sleep. As long as I sleep enough, I very rarely have diarrhea, but as soon as I start sleeping less, it gets worse. The less I sleep, the worse it becomes. The effect of a lack of sleep isn't as bad as it used to be anymore (it used to be absolutely terrible), but it's still more than enough to cause some serious discomfort.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 07, 2012
at 10:37 PM

Ben, are you saying that your diarrhoea is caused by not enough sleep?

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3 Answers

1
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on June 08, 2012
at 01:43 AM

I don't have Chron's or IBS, but do suffer from "stress-gut" when I am dealing with huge amounts or stress or am not sleeping well or enough. I usually tough it out the first day, but if lasts more than one day, I use Renew Life's DiarrheaSTOP. It contains Kaolin clay, apple pectin, and activated charcoal. It doesn't back me up like Immodium used to and 1-2 doses usually does the trick.

0
Medium avatar

on June 22, 2012
at 01:32 PM

I am in remission for crohns; after taking meds for decades and numerous surgeries I have been med-free for 5 years. My doc thinks it is due to vitamin d supplementation. Give it a whirl. Also I dont eat sweets or many carbs at all. Those really helped too. Good luck. (To help w diarrhea you can always snack on cheese).

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 23, 2012
at 01:46 PM

I already take vitamin D supplements, and I believe those have helped (although it's hard to know whether it's the vitamin D or another factor; I've tried many things).

0
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 22, 2012
at 06:43 AM

Anything less than 5-6 hours sleep and I'm right there in that same boat with you. I don't think it is that unusual. I once read some woo woo thing about the order in which the body is healed during sleep and the gut is the last in line, so if you wake early the gut hasn't been properly restored, I kinda believe it.

I go straight for the Immodium chewable tablets, 20-30 hours of not having to go is a lot more pleasant than sprinting for the bathroom in my book. I've never noticed any ill effects after the fact, things just kinda catch up and get back to normal after a day or two.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 23, 2012
at 06:55 PM

It was a print out from a holistic nutritionist, she included Ayervedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine in her practice. I'll see if I can find it.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 23, 2012
at 01:47 PM

"I once read some woo woo thing about the order in which the body is healed during sleep and the gut is the last in line, so if you wake early the gut hasn't been properly restored, I kinda believe it." do you know where you read that? You've caught my attention here.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 23, 2012
at 07:00 PM

I haven't found the printout yet, but this looks very similar to what I remember: http://www.healthreviser.com/content/body-clock-and-health

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