In a single-themed column, outside of my usual pattern of writing a series, I wanted to focus on a problem symptom I have suffered for a long time: Insomnia.
Crohn’s disease can be debilitating and it can leave patients exhausted, and there lies a major problem for the fatigued ― insomnia.
Inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases, can be very unpredictable. Crohn’s and IBD can have a multitude of extraintestinal symptoms, involving the eyes, mouth, skin, kidneys and joints, with body pain, neurological problems and many other “Beyond the Bathroom” problems and manifestations.
Crohn’s disease and insomnia
I’ve mentioned previously that one of my main Crohn’s disease symptoms is insomnia or being restless during the night. An IBD patient may not suffer from insomnia, but I have found as the years go by, my restless symptoms have worsened.
Insomnia, because of pain, stress, anxiety, medication and lack of sleep, is a serious concern. Crohn’s patients can become negatively affected by insomnia, with induced flares, impaired cognition, patient fatigue and drowsiness. Insomnia can affect the overall quality of life.
Pain, in any form, would keep most people up at night. For many Crohn’s disease patients and IBD warriors, pain is a common symptom and not unfamiliar.
I suffer some form of pain daily, whether it be my hands, or cramps, or urgency in my bowels, in my bottom or elsewhere. This pain, or series of pains, either keeps me up at night and I can’t seem to fall asleep, or it wakes me in the night, disturbing my sleep and preventing me from going back to sleep.
Too often I suffer insomnia, sometimes I am even up until after the sunrise, sleeping only because of pure exhaustion, making for very long and painful days. I rarely nap during the day, if I’m home, and even then I cannot sleep.
Medications and insomnia
Certain medications, although they may help some Crohn’s disease symptoms, may cause unpleasant side effects.
Prednisone, a common steroid given to Crohn’s disease patients, can have side effects of insomnia or hyperactivity. While it may be a super-drug that helps most patients find some relief, it often leaves you restless at bedtime. I have found that taking my prednisone early in the morning, when I first wake, is much more helpful than taking it at night.
My primary care doctor also prescribed the supplement melatonin, which is a hormone your body makes already, but an added dose can help patients find sleep; too little may not help and too much may have the opposite effect of what’s wanted.
And we all must remember that sleep is necessary for healing, and no sleep can lead to more problems. Your experiences and patient perspective may be similar to or different from mine, but everyone needs sleep.
Turning off the television and electronic devices, turning down the lights and using your bed only for sleep can help. I would recommend you discuss any concerns with your doctors, and I hope that you sleep well!
For me and my Crohn’s, It Could Be Worse.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.