7 Ways to Sleep Better with Ulcerative Colitis


Here, we will go over seven ways to get a better night’s sleep when suffering from ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is a painful disease that causes inflammation and ulcers to develop in the digestive tract, bowls, and rectum. The pain and stress associated with this condition can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to sleep better with ulcerative colitis, so keep reading because we list them below. 

  1. Have an earlier dinner

Since food plays a large part in how ulcerative colitis behaves, eating an earlier dinner can minimize its effect on a person’s sleep. 

A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating after 5 pm-6 pm and have the last meal of the day be light and low in fat. Doing so can limit the amount of pain a person has at night and reduce how often they need to wake up to use the restroom.  

  1. Identify and control any co-existing conditions

Although the cause of ulcerative colitis is still unknown, individuals with this disease often have co-existing conditions

Stress, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, anemia, kidney disease, and liver problems frequently occur alongside inflammatory bowel diseases.  

Since many of these conditions can aggravate ulcerative colitis symptoms, you must talk with your doctor to rule out any other health problems. If other conditions are present, treating them may decrease the frequency and severity of pain and flare-ups.

  1. Look into the side effects of your medications

Since many people with inflammatory bowel diseases tend to have coexisting conditions, they may be taking medications for other issues that interfere with their sleep. 

Steroids, beta-blockers, SSRIs, and stimulants are some common medications that may result in insomnia or restlessness. 

Individuals that take medications and struggle to get enough rest should talk to their doctor about side effects and consider alternative solutions. 

  1. Avoid foods that trigger a flare-up

The foods that trigger a flare-up may not be the same for everyone. However, trigger foods must be identified and avoided. 

It is suggested that a person with ulcerative colitis make a log of foods and ingredients that aggravate their symptoms. 

Some common triggers are:

  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • High fiber foods
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Nuts
  • Fatty meats
  • Sugar alcohols and fructose sugar
  • Spicy foods
  • Sulfur and sulfites
  • Gluten 
  1. Change how you sleep

Changing the way a person with ulcerative colitis sleeps may significantly reduce symptoms.

Consider creating a relaxing environment with:

  • Calming music or nature sounds
  • Essential oil diffusers for aromatherapy
  • Salt lamps or projection lights

Sleep more comfortably by:

  • Using body pillows to take pressure off of painful areas
  • Trying different sleeping positions
  • Investing in a better bed
  • Using a weighted blanket for anxiety
  • Sleeping alone to avoid interruptions and maintain a neutral position
  1. Use sleeping aids

If changing lifestyle and sleeping habits does not offer an effective solution, consider using sleep aids.

  • Cannabis is a powerful sleep aid that comes in various forms such as topicals, edibles, or buds and can be purchased at a local dispensary. Both psychedelic and non-psychedelic forms of cannabis can help a person get better sleep.
  • Melatonin is a hormone the body naturally creates in response to darkness and triggers sleepiness. Melatonin can be found in supplement form and purchased over the counter at any drug or department store. 
  • Primary caregivers can prescribe sleeping pills for those struggling to fall asleep. However, it is best to use this method as a last resort since these medications can be dangerous.
  1. Develop a pain management plan

Creating an effective pain management plan can make sleeping easier for those struggling with ulcerative colitis. 

Consider the follow pain methods of pain relief:

  • Doctor prescribed medications
  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Topical creams
  • Marijuana
  • Epsom salt bath
  • Heating pads

A person living with ulcerative colitis should find an effective pain reliever and add it to their nightly routine to minimize sleep disturbances.

The amount of sleep a person with ulcerative colitis gets each night directly affects the severity of their flare-ups. 

Unfortunately, this is a catch-22 because getting sleep with this disease can be incredibly difficult. 

Although challenging, getting sleep with ulcerative colitis is possible. Consider creating a more comfortable sleep environment, using pain and sleep aides, changing eating habits, and managing medications or conditions that aggravate symptoms. 


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