Just as your body needs food and water to keep you going, sleep is also very important for your well-being. While you sleep, your body continues to work hard and helps you to re-energize among many other helpful benefits. In fact, many studies are showing that lack of sleep can increase inflammation, not to mention that it can affect your mood and mental health. That’s why it is especially important for teens with IBD to get their recommended sleep each night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. If you aren’t getting the sleep you need, you aren’t alone. Studies have found that many teens are not getting enough sleep, but it is important to ensure that you do your best to get the rest you need so that you don’t feel worse while coping with IBD. While there are some factors you can’t control, here’s what you can do to help you get the sleep you need:
- Exercise and do physical activity each day if possible
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day: This will help keep your body accustomed to a schedule
- Make your room a comfortable place to rest: make sure you dim the lights, and have quiet time
- Don’t have heavy meals or drinks before bedtime
- Turn off distractions: this includes the TV, cell phone, apps, video games, or anything that stimulates your mind
You can learn more about sleep tips for teens by visiting the National Sleep Foundation.
When IBD gets in the way of sleep
When you have IBD, sometimes you may experience symptoms that are uncomfortable, and make it difficult for you to get the rest you need. While there may not be an easy solution to the problem, it is important to get support from parents and/or your healthcare team. Here are some things you should know:
- Keep a sleep diary so that you can see the affect that lack of sleep can have on your health, and your disease. If you notice you are not getting the rest you need, you may be physically feeling something, or perhaps your mind just can’t relax.
- Take note of the symptoms that you are feeling, and that are keeping you up. Is it abdominal pain? Is it frequent bathroom visits during the night? Is it some other discomfort?
- Take your medications as your doctor prescribed. Medications help in reducing inflammation and symptoms, which can help minimize the symptoms that could keep you up at night.
- Talk to your doctor and healthcare team about it. They may make changes to your care, or recommendations that can help you.
- Know your limits. If you feel very tired, then listen to your body. You may be very busy with extracurricular activities, or other plans. If you need to take a break, then try not to overexert yourself
Sleep and IBD are an important area of study. You may be interested in tracking your sleep activity through an app, and seeing how it affects your disease. You can do this through a program called IBD Partners where we learn more about IBD through patient surveys.