Do specific types of sleep disturbances represent risk factors for poorer health-related quality of life in inflammatory bowel disease? A longitudinal cohort study

J Health Psychol. 2020 Jul 7;e12457.doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12457. Online ahead of print.

Alexander J Scott 1, Olivia Flowers 1, Georgina Rowse 2


Author information

  • 1School of Health & Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, UK.
  • 2Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK.


Objectives: Poor global sleep quality is commonly reported in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is linked to poorer health-related quality of life (HRQoL). However, understanding is currently limited by a lack of: (1) longitudinal research and (2) research investigating the impact of specific types of problems sleeping on IBD-related outcomes, particularly on HRQoL.

Design: Observational longitudinal cohort study.

Methods: N = 276 participants with IBD completed measures at baseline (T1) and 4 weeks later at T2. Four specific sleep disturbances associated with IBD including sleep apnoea, insomnia, restless legs, and nightmares were measured alongside depression, anxiety and stress, and HRQoL.

Results: After controlling for participant demographics and clinical characteristics, T1 depression, anxiety, stress, and T1 HRQoL, more severe symptom severity of sleep apnoea (B = -0.30, p < .05) and insomnia symptoms (B = -0.23, p < .05) at T1 significantly predicted poorer HRQoL at T2. However, the experience of restless legs (B = -0.03, p > .87) and nightmares (B = -0.14, p > .11) at T1 did not predict HRQoL.

Conclusion: Symptoms synonymous with sleep apnoea and insomnia might represent modifiable risk factors that provide independent contributions to HRQoL over time in those with IBD. These findings suggest that interventions designed to improve sleep apnoea and insomnia could confer benefits to HRQoL in those with IBD. However, more longitudinal research is needed to understand the contribution of sleep disturbances over the longer term, as well as more randomized controlled trials testing the effect of improving sleep on IBD-related outcomes.

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