7 Ways to Sleep Better with Ulcerative Colitis

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After being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) in 2007, Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford began her quest for better sleep. She barely slept three hours a night due to ileostomy procedures, bags and pouches, chronic and severe pain, and other UC concerns.  

Sleep isn't isolated. Relaxation makes falling asleep easier, although cultivating relaxation may be less noticeable.   

Establish a Relaxation Routine

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Beaulieu says that you shouldn't eat three to four hours before going to bed. "Your body should be getting ready for sleep, but after you eat, it's getting ready for digestion."  

Eat an Early Dinner — and if Possible, Take a Walk Afterward

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A 2022 study indicated that IBD, especially UC, may increase the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea, which can severely impair sleep quality and quantity. If you have this treatable issue, a sleep study may help you get more and better sleep.  

Consider a Sleep Study

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The National Sleep Foundation found that over half of Americans glance at devices within an hour of bedtime or in bed before bed.   

Avoid Screen

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Mental health issues are known to cause IBD flares and disrupt sleep. Thus, treating anxiety and depression can directly and indirectly improve UC sleep.  

Consider Mental Health Treatment, Including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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Sleep masks and earplugs keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. Beaulieu recommends a warm bath before bed. Because changing body temperature puts your brain to sleep, a bath is a great relaxation tool.  

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

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“If you can, expose yourself to light first thing in the morning,” Beauliu advises. “Drink coffee or tea outside. That establishes your circadian rhythm and sleep clock for the day.”  

Establish Healthy Lifestyle Habit

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Exercise is necessary (but not before bed). Good relationships and stress management are too. Beaulieu explains, “With IBD, you tend to be in fight-or-flight mode a lot of the time — thinking about your disease, or working out where the nearest bathroom is.  


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