Can't Sleep? It Could Be a Digestive Problem
Insomnia Linked With Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Indigestion, Heartburn
Dec. 15, 2004 -- Insomnia and digestive problems are common bedfellows.
A new study in this month's issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows
that irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and heartburn are frequently seen
among people with insomnia.
Both insomnia and digestive problems are extremely common, notes researcher
Santhi Swaroop Vege, MD, a professor of gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic
College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.
Several researchers have made a similar connection between the two, but
haven't quite understood the pattern. Certainly, stomach pain can cause
insomnia. And insomnia can cause stomach upsets. Also, both sets of problems
could have some common underlying cause, such as anxiety, depression, or other
To explore this more, Vege and his colleagues mailed questionnaires to
randomly chosen residents in one Minnesota county.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Take
this quick quiz.
The survey also asked about numerous symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS), such as bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea. Other questions were
about nondigestive problems, including headache, backache, asthma, high blood
pressure, fatigue, depression, dizziness, and weakness.
Of the 2,269 residents who responded, researchers found that 39% reported
insomnia at least once a month; 6% said their insomnia was severe or extremely
- 15% reported stomach pain waking them from sleep
- 15% said they had IBS
- 10% had digestive problems
- 13% reported frequent heartburn
The strongest association was seen between insomnia and IBS.
Those who also had stress in their lives were twice as likely to have
insomnia, IBS, and heartburn - but not other digestive problems, Vege
More research is needed to understand exactly what's happening, especially
the interactions between stress and intestinal problems, researchers say.