According to a recent research project published in the November issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, higher risks of ulcerative colitis may be associated with not sleeping the recommended number of hours. The study suggests that those who sleep more or less than the 7 or 8 recommended hours per night may have higher risks of developing the disease.
Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and author of the study, said in a press release from the American Gastroenterological Association): “Both short and long durations of sleep have important health implications, and are associated with increased overall mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Our findings indicate that ulcerative colitis may potentially be added to this list (…) We found that less than six hours of sleep per day and more than nine hours of sleep per day are each associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis.”
This assessment included women enrolled in both the Nurses’ Health Study I in 1976 and the Nurses’ Health Study II in 1989. As part of the study, once every two years, the women completed a detailed questionnaire. Researchers noted that a long follow-up period made it possible to study the connection between sleep and the disease incident more accurately.
In a previous study, researchers also found that 6 months of poor sleep quality was highly associated with a doubled increase in the risk of sudden outbursts of Crohn’s disease. Dr. Ananthakrishnan commented: “All these data together support a growing recognition of the impact of sleep disruption on the immune system, and the need for providers to frequently inquire about sleep duration and quality as an important parameter of health in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases.”
Other studies found that sleep patterns are critically important to human health. Recently, an exploratory study conducted by the University of Washington connected sleep disturbances with predictability symptoms in women suffering with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).