The amount of sleep you get can cause constipation

If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know you’ll probably feel lousy the next day. However, did you also know that lack of sleep — or too much sleep — can trigger constipation?  The new study was released during Digestive Disease Week 2020.

Researchers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey asked 14,590 adults aged 20 years and older to complete a questionnaire on sleep and bowel health.

They used the National Sleep Foundation standards to define what is normal sleep (it’s 7-8 hours), long sleep (anything over 8 hours), and short sleep (less than 7 hours). They also asked study participants to track their bowel functions using the Bristol Stool Scale as a guide (see article “Everything you need to know about poop!”) for what is normal, constipation, or diarrhea.

What they discovered? People who slept less than 6 hours on average increased their odds of constipation by 38%. Those who tend to sleep longer than 8 hours had an even higher odds of constipation—by as much as 61%! None in either group reported diarrhea. The study controlled for age, gender, race, economic, lifestyle, and dietary factors.

Essentially, the study suggests that sleeping the day away or tossing and turning the night before could lead to straining in the bathroom. Granted, more studies will need to be done to confirm the link to constipation and sleep.

In the meantime, it would seem that more people with (or without) IBS may notice an increase in constipation as they report restless sleep during this COVID-19 uneasiness. If that’s the case and the pains associated with constipation can’t easily be alleviated, a visit to the HCP may be warranted.