A man in seen in 3 stages of trying to get to sleep before he gives up and gets out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Does Your IBS Wake You Up at Night?

Sleep is such an important part of our lives as it directly impacts both our physical and mental health. It’s a known fact that irregular sleep or insomnia can negatively affect many other aspects of our lives, whether it’s our productivity at work, or our patience with other people in general. For me, dealing with IBS has affected my ability to sleep throughout the night on a daily basis, and it’s been one of the toughest aspects of the illness to manage. There isn’t a night I can remember that I haven’t been woken up in the middle of the night by either intense gas pain or an urgent need to rush to the bathroom. As a result, my nights are hardly filled with peace and quiet.

Trouble falling asleep

My issues with sleep can be narrowed down to the two most important factors of a good night’s rest: falling asleep and staying asleep. A typical night for me involves lying in bed and watching television until I can fall asleep. Something I’m sure many of you can relate to is the feeling of anxiety before trying to fall asleep. Mostly this anxiety stems from thinking about the list of things you plan to accomplish the next day, but no matter what it’s about, it’s always there. This is what I use medical cannabis and low-volume television for during the evenings, and it seems to help me fall asleep quicker. The cannabis (with the proper dosage of THC) helps dull the pain and gets me into a drowsy state, while both that and the television (usually a movie) help me battle with anxious thoughts. (I am aware that for many television and medical marijuana can do just the opposite for helping people fall asleep, but I am solely speaking for what works for me in this case)

Trouble staying asleep

The part of sleep I haven’t figured out how to master yet is the art of staying asleep while dealing with IBS symptoms. Throughout the past several years I have gone through so many different trials and errors when trying to find the best way to manage this. One thing I have learned is that it’s not a good idea to eat too late at night before I go to bed because the food will eventually trigger my symptoms even worse throughout the night and the next morning. So, I try to avoid that as much as possible, but I’ll be honest I’m not perfect and sometime a late-night snack ends up calling my name! When I did eat heavy meals late at night, the consequence was always having to call or email my job stating that I would be late showing up the next day – sometimes hours late, which my boss didn’t appreciate too much. So, eating heavy before sleep is a huge “no-no” for me. To make matters more complicated, another thing I have learned is that it doesn’t actually matter whether I eat before bed or not because I still get woken up by my condition regardless – just not in as much pain. This usually occurs within 3-4 hours after I have fallen asleep, and in the middle of a deep sleep, I start to feel extremely uncomfortable. I then start tossing and turning with pain in all over my stomach (and sometimes entire body) until I am forced to get up and use the bathroom. After a very long session in the bathroom, it’s nearly impossible for me to fall back asleep, and by that time I have to begin my day. Daily cycles of this would cause anyone to experience sleep deprivation and it’s not healthy. I now try to incorporate naps during the day, but that’s not always possible.

Staying positive

With all of that being said, I must say that my IBS has truly tested my strength of character. The B-S it puts me through on a daily basis can be beyond tiring and discouraging at times. However, I can either allow this experience to make me or break me, and I will always choose the former. This condition has forced me to learn how to remain positive through the pain because being depressed and miserable, on top of tired, only makes it worse. So, although I lack sleep on a regular basis, I still manage to laugh about my pain and allow the experience to make me stronger. Let’s just say, I’ve managed to get a lot of work done during those sleepless nights!

Can any of you relate to my experience? Does your IBS wake you at night frequently also? If so, how do you handle it? Thanks for reading and I look forward to reading your comments.

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