It’s no mystery that failing to get enough sleep — about seven to eight hours each night — can make one drowsy, distracted, and more likely to cause accidents. But a new report finds that it can also raise your risk of developing ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease that results in colon sores.
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The study, which has now been published in the medical journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, examined more than 15,000 people who completed detailed questionnaires about their health status and the amount of sleep they get each night.
The researchers found that those people who slept less than six hours per night were more likely to develop ulcerative colitis. However, the researchers also made another important discovery: people who got too much sleep (over nine hours per 24-hour period) were also more likely to develop ulcerative colitis than people who got between seven and nine hours of sleep each day.
It’s also worth noting that the research shows insufficient sleep increased a person’s risk of developing Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that can impact any section of the gastrointestinal tract.
The research was led by Dr. Ashwin N. Ananthakrishnan of Massachusetts General Hospital. He says the findings should draw more attention to the health impact of not getting the right amount of sleep each day.
“All these data together support a growing recognition of the impact of sleep disruption on the immune system, and the need for providers to frequently inquire about sleep duration and quality as an important parameter of health in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases,” Ananthakrishnan’s report said.