A house at night has a light on in one window with a man in it, hand shaped tree branches are reaching towards the house

Middle-Of-The-Night Flares: A Nightmare

Last updated: August 2022

I’ve recently come across a new phenomenon in my IBS journey: middle-of-the-night flares. Waking up at 4 am to go to the bathroom is not fun. It’s been one of the most frustrating and tiring experiences, and I have no idea what brought it on. Before, I would sometimes have flares that extended into the night or started in the morning when I woke up. But I have never woken up in the middle of the night because of a flare.

Lack of sleep

The first problem with flares that happen at night is obvious: they keep me from sleeping. I already struggle with sleep at the moment, so it’s been extra annoying for me. Instead of getting the rest I desperately need, I am forced to go to the bathroom over and over and over again. Between those trips, I feel too much discomfort to actually rest.

And since a lack of sleep tends to worsen my IBS symptoms, it is truly a vicious cycle that I don’t know how to get out of.

Waking up everyone else

I don’t know if that’s due to the layout of our house or because my partner and son are pretty light sleepers, but they always tend to wake up when I get a flare during the night. We then end up with a toddler in our bed, which doesn’t make getting up all the time any easier.

In addition to that, I feel so guilty for keeping everyone awake with my digestive problems!

What triggered the flare?

I’m used to getting flares in the evening, especially when I’ve eaten something not very safe, like chocolate, during the day. But I’m always so careful with dinner that I have honestly no idea what causes these flares at night. And we all know how incredibly frustrating it is not to know what triggered an IBS flare-up!

Maybe I ate too late. Maybe I ate too much. And maybe it’s just a random thing my IBS decided to do. I just wish I knew what I could do to make those flares go away, or at least happen at another time of day.

Nighttime flares and anxiety

I usually feel at least a little anxious during flares. Some IBS flares are caused by anxiety, others just stress me out because I either don’t know what triggered them, when they’re going to end, or both. However, nighttime flares are on a whole other level when it comes to anxiety.

Firstly, I immediately start stressing about waking up the rest of my family. Then, I’m stressed because they’re awake, and I’m to blame. Moreover, I started worrying that this would continue happening every night now and that I’ll never get another good night’s sleep. And if I have anything at all planned in the morning, I start panicking because I know that I’ll miss the appointment. It’s terrible.

Nighttime flares don’t always stop

Usually, my IBS-D flares only last a couple of hours and then stop on their own. Severe flares can last longer, and I mostly take medication to calm my digestive system. With these new middle-of-the-night flares, it’s different, though. Even when I think it’s getting better, it isn’t. Even when I’m able to fall asleep and wake up feeling fine, I get another bout of diarrhea 10 minutes later. Not all nighttime flares are this bad, but the ones that are always ruining my entire day. And as of now, I have no idea what to do.

Do you struggle with flares in the middle of the night? If yes, I’d love to know if you have any tips for dealing with them!

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