Sleep Duration May Increase Ulcerative Colitis Risk

Further studies needed to evaluate sleep-related risk factors in IBD, authors say.

Further studies needed to evaluate sleep-related risk factors in IBD, authors say.

Patients who sleep too little or too much during the night may have an increased risk of developing ulcerative colitis, the results of a new study appearing in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggest.

Researchers found an increased risk of ulcerative colitis in participants who slept less than 6 hours per night, or more than 9 hours per night, compared with participants who slept 7 to 8 hours per night. The associations were found to be independent of other known environmental risk factors.

Sleep duration is associated with several adverse health outcomes, including increased disease risk.

"Both short and long durations of sleep have important health implications and are associated with increased overall mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer,” Ashwin N. Ananthakrishnan, MD, lead study author, said in a press release. “Our findings indicate that ulcerative colitis may potentially be added to this list. We found that less than 6 hours of sleep per day and more than 9 hours of sleep per day are each associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis.”

The study involved women who were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study I since 1976, and the Nurses’ Health Study II since 1989. Participants responded to biennial questionnaires with greater than 90% follow-up. Researchers confirmed 230 cases of ulcerative colitis over 2,292,849 person-years.

Researchers also examined Crohn’s disease in the study cohort, and confirmed 191 Crohn’s disease cases over 2,292,849 person-years. They found sleep duration did not change Crohn’s disease risk, however.

A previous study by Dr. Ananthakrishnan and his colleagues that was also published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology reported that poor sleep quality resulted in a 2-fold increase in Crohn’s disease flares at 6 months, even during disease remission.

“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 disease,” he said in a press release.