Buy this Article for $10.95

Have a coupon or promotional code? Enter it here:

When you buy this you'll get access to the ePub version, a downloadable PDF, and the ability to print the full article.


irritable bowel syndrome, sleep, women



  1. Heitkemper, Margaret
  2. Charman, Alison Beth Deitz
  3. Shaver, Joan
  4. Lentz, Martha J.
  5. Jarrett, Monica E.


Background: Women who report chronic gastrointestinal symptoms compatible with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) frequently report sleep disturbances.


Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (a) compare self-reported and polysomnographic indicators of sleep quality in women with IBS symptoms (IBS-SX, n = 16) and controls (n = 16); (b) examine the relationship between the indicators of sleep quality; and (c) determine the relationship between sleep indicators and psychological distress.


Methods: The women slept in a laboratory for 2 consecutive nights. Polysomnographic measurements were recorded during sleep, and a sleep questionnaire was completed upon awakening each morning. Psychological distress was measured with the Symptom Checklist-90-R during the initial interview.


Results: Women in the IBS-SX group reported significantly greater numbers of awakenings during sleep (p = .008) and had a longer latency to REM sleep (p = .04) than did the controls. Self-reported and polysomnographic indicators were more highly correlated in the control group than in the IBS-SX group. In the IBS-SX group, the greater the psychological distress, the less alert (rs = .419) and rested (rs = .564) the women felt in the morning and the more time the women spent in stages 3 and 4 sleep (rs = .479) and less in stage 2 (rs = -.447) and REM (rs = -.414) sleep. In the control group, psychological distress was not significantly associated with self-reported measures but was significantly associated with the number of awakenings (rs = .506) and time in stages 3 and 4 sleep (rs = -.677).


Conclusions: Although the women in the IBS-SX group reported significantly more awakenings, the weak relationship between self-reported and polysomnographic indicators suggests that clinicians must keep in mind that further assessments may be necessary.