Did you know that how long (or should I say, how little) you sleep could be the cause of your constipation? In an age where lack of sleep has been referred to as an epidemic in the United States, the link between your sleep patterns and your gut health couldn’t be more timely.
A May 2020 study, featured in the Digestive Disease Week 2020 lineup, looked at the relationship between constipation and sleep duration as reported by 14,500 adults who participated in the National Health & Nutrition Examination survey. In the survey, long sleep duration was defined as greater than 8 hours, normal sleep duration between 7 and 8 hours, and short sleep duration less than 7 hours. Bowel regularity was based on the number of bowel movements per week (constipation is defined as fewer than 3 bowel movements within a week), as well as stool form (lumpy, hard, soft, etc.) and were categorized as normal, constipation, or diarrhea.
After adjusting for confounding factors, such as demographics, comorbid diseases, lifestyle, medication, and diet, those with short sleep durations possessed a 38% increased risk in suffering from constipation. While one could say that lack of sleep plays a large role in constipation causality, it’s really a “chicken or the egg” situation. Does lack of sleep play a role in constipation etiology, or does impaired bowel function from constipation cause lack of sleep? Researchers who conducted the study believe both are at play.
Staller, et al. Abstract Sa1711. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 2-5, 2020; Chicago (meeting canceled).