Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a waxing and waning disease characterized by diarrhea, abdominal pain and weight loss. Recently, there has been an increased interest in the roles that sleep, circadian rhythms and melatonin could have as regulators of inflammation in the Gl tract.
Advances in our understanding of the molecular machinery of the circadian clock, and the discovery of clock genes in the GI tract are opening up new avenues of research for a role of sleep in IBD. Altering circadian rhythm significantly worsens the development of colitis in animal models, and preliminary human studies have shown that patients with IBD are at increased risk for altered sleep patterns. Further research is needed to clarify the role of disturbances in IBD.
Currently the etiology of IBD is not known and thus it is not surprising that there is no cure for IBD; the primary treatment goal is to improve patients’ quality of life by treating flare ups and maintaining remission. The most effective approach to maintaining remission is to prevent episodes of flare by modifying and treating potential triggers. Although there are no undisputed triggers for flare ups, several environmental factors and social habits have been studied as triggers because they can clearly impact the disease course of IBD