Sleep and ulcerative colitis have something in common

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Too much, too little sleep linked to ulcerative colitis

A recent investigation from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital suggests sleep duration may be an important factor when it comes to both preventing and managing ulcerative colitis that affects one million people worldwide.

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Results of a new investigation suggests sleeping too little might increase a person's risk of developing UC in addition to causing flare-up. Too much sleep is also highlighted as a potential contributor to a variety of diseases that the study authors say might now include ulcerative colitis.

How much sleep is optimal?

Many studies suggest heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome from weight gain, depression and more can result from sleeping less than seven hours a night and more than nine hours.

For this study, published in the journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology, a Massachusetts team of scientists looked at data from two separate Nurses' Health Studies - one that began in 1986 and the NHS II that started in 1989.

Lead study author Ashwin N. Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital said in a press release: "Our findings indicate that ulcerative colitis may potentially be added to this list. We found that less than six hours of sleep per day and more than nine hours of sleep per day are each associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis."

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A past study from the same group of researchers showed getting poor sleep increased the risk of ulcerative colitis flare-ups two-fold, even for those in remission.

More studies recommended

The study was large, but the researchers note the limitation of the study because it primarily included white female nurses. Understanding how sleep quality and duration could raise the risk of UC or cause ulcerative colitis flares would also require more study, which is recommended by the researchers. The risk of UC from short or long sleep was consistent even when other environmental factors were taken into account.

Citations:

Ananthakrishnan, A. N., Sleep Duration Affects Risk for Ulcerative Colitis: A Prospective Cohort Study. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2014: 12(11): 1879-1886

Ananthakrishnan, A. N., Sleep Disturbance and Risk of Active Disease In Patients With Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2013: 11(8): 965-97

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