Tips for Sleeping with IBD

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Sleep is incredibly beneficial for your overall health, and teenagers should get between eight and ten hours of sleep per night to stay healthy. IBD can be exhausting at times, and you should try to get as much sleep as you can. Here are some tips to help you get all the sleep you need.

 

  1. Exercise

Exercise helps to tire out your body. If you exercise during the day, you will be able to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

 

  1. Set a schedule

Try to wake up at roughly the same time each day, and set a bed time too. Although you may not be able to follow a perfect schedule every day, even doing this most of the time can improve your sleep cycle.

 

  1. Quiet your mind

Do some relaxing exercises before bed, such as stretching, meditating, or reading. This will help to calm your mind before you sleep.

 

  1. Avoid technology

Avoid screens before bedtime because the light they emit can keep you up at night. If you need to do work on your phone or computer before bed, use the apps and native features available to adjust on-screen lighting levels. Activate Night Shift if you have an iPhone, or download an app like f.lux for your Android phone or computer that changes the lighting to a level that doesn’t keep you awake.

 

  1. Track your sleep

Write down when you went to bed and when you woke up to find patterns in your sleep schedule that may be off. Also, note whether any symptoms woke you up in the middle of the night. Let your doctor know if this happens often.

 

  1. Food and Water Consumption

Make sure that you are hydrated before bed but not so much that you will need to get up during the night. Additionally, make sure that you are not eating too close to when you fall asleep. Avoid any caffeinated beverages and make sure that the foods you are eating do not contain caffeine (e.g., chocolate).

 

These strategies allow me to get a good night’s sleep almost every night. By adding these to your schedule, you should see a vast improvement in your sleep schedule. However, if you think you suffer from a sleeping problem, contact your doctor, especially if you think it may be caused by your IBD. I hope these tips help you to sleep well!

 


Best Blogs for IBD

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 11.55.41 AMThese days, many people blog about their personal experiences, and blogs about IBD, IBS, and other autoimmune disorders are common. While they all have something to offer, I would like to highlight six blogs that helped me when I was struggling after being diagnosed.

 

  1. Girl in Healing

This blog is great for general tips about how to take care of yourself if you have IBD, specifically if you have Crohn’s disease.

https://girlinhealing.com/

 

  1. Colitis Ninja

This blog showed me that I’m not alone and that IBD isn’t a weakness. Reading the blogger’s posts gave me a much-needed confidence boost.

http://colitisninja.com/

 

  1. Heal Me in the Kitchen

As someone who has had to follow a strict diet for years, it’s nice to know I’m in good company. This blog is full of great ideas about cooking for a paleo diet.

http://www.healmeinthekitchen.com/p/httpsstatic.html

 

  1. Ali on the Run

Through her blog, Ali shows that you can be an athlete even when you’re dealing with IBD. Her blog is extremely inspirational, and it will show you that anything is possible.

http://www.aliontherunblog.com/

 

  1. Lights Camera Crohn’s

This blog is also great for general tips and for understanding someone else’s personal experience with the disease.

Home

 

  1. It Could Be Worse

True to its lighthearted title, this blog has helped me to stay positiveeven during difficult times.

Published Work

 

I followed these blogs when I was first diagnosed, and I still keep up with some of them now. They are informative and inspirational, and, most importantly, they let me know I am not alone. I hope these blog recommendations will help you as much as they helped me


Important Nutrients in Blood Work

When having blood work done, it’s important to pay attention to certain mineral and vitamin levels. For example, a lack of iron or of vitamin D can leave you feeling exhausted, yet both conditions are easy to treat with supplements.

If you are experiencing a flare-up, monitoring your iron levels to check for anemia is incredibly important. I became anemic a few times due to blood loss. I felt so weak that I couldn’t stand for even short periods of time, and I couldn’t think properly. I couldn’t focus on school work, I was very pale, and I felt like I was exerting a lot of energy just by doing the simplest activities. When I found out I was anemic, I was relieved because it has an easy cure. My doctor immediately gave me iron tablets. My red blood cell count increased, and I stopped feeling weak. It became much easier for me to go about my day.

Also, pay attention to your vitamin levels. I lacked vitamin D due to UC. It caused me to feel tired, and I couldn’t concentrate properly. Again, it was very simple to increase my vitamin D levels. I was given tablets, and my condition greatly improved.

These are only two things to look for on your blood test results—I recommend looking into all mineral and vitamin levels to make sure your IBD isn’t negatively affecting you when you’re not having a flare-up. Also, ask your doctor if anything is cause for concern. Finally, if you feel tired or ill, have a blood test to find out if anything is seriously wrong.

Click these links to learn more about the importance of vitamin D and how a deficiency may lead to relapse in UC patients, and about iron and anemia in UC patients.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161024140506.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170217161026.htm

 


Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness training are good for everybody, but they are especially great for IBD patients. IBD can be extremely stressful at times, especially for students and those with full-time careers. Meditation and mindfulness help people to find peace and calmness. I have used meditation and other forms of mindfulness training to help me deal with the stress of IBD, and I found that the best part of mindfulness is that it only takes a few minutes a day to calm down and release your stress.

According to a study conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health, mindfulness can bring long-lasting improvements in mental health and quality of life for patients with IBD. The researchers tested patients after eight weekly group sessions and an additional day-long intensive session. The sessions included guided meditation, mindfulness exercises, and group discussions of challenges and experiences. Patients were also encouraged to perform daily meditation at home. Those who completed the program experienced lower anxiety and depression scores and improved physical and psychological quality of life. They also had more awareness of inner and outer experiences. Six months later, they continued to experience a significant reduction in depression and improvement in quality of life.

While mindfulness training clearly helps to improve the mental health of IBD patients, it could also improve their physical health. Sometimes, stress can cause one to relapse into a flare up; if patients can reduce stress through mindfulness training, they may be able to prevent flare ups.

Obviously, not everyone has the time to go through as intense a program as the subjects in the study did. However, you can still practice mindfulness at home. I find meditation to be the most helpful for me. I use the Calm app to meditate, and I’ve heard Headspace is another great app for meditation.

Remember that small habits can lead to big changes in your life. See if daily acts of mindfulness can change your life.

 

 


Teens v. Young Adults with IBD

My brother and I have been dealing with similar symptoms for a couple of years now. While he has yet to be diagnosed, I suspect he may have mild Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease. He was diagnosed with IBS, but some of his symptoms seem closer to Inflammatory Bowel Disease than IBS. I’ve noticed that although we have been going through the same thing, we have had vastly different experiences. Although my experience has been difficult and unpleasant, my brother faced even greater difficulties, probably due to the difference in our ages.

My brother is a senior in college, while I am a senior in high school. I was diagnosed when I was thirteen, and he was diagnosed last summer. I had a better support system because I was so young: My mom helped me to change my entire diet, and my parents helped me with my accommodations for school and provided emotional support when I needed it. I never felt completely alone.

My brother’s experience, on the other hand, was much harder because he was living alone. He was supposed to be preparing for his future, but his symptoms were weighing him down, and he was at a point in his life where his teachers didn’t care that much about his illness. He had to learn how to make his own food, he had to schedule appointments, and he had to force himself to get up in the morning no matter how much pain he felt.

We bonded, in a way, over our shared symptoms. I gave him as much advice as I could, but I knew he would be alone during this time. He also never truly explained to his friends what was happening with his body. If he had been honest with them, they would have been able to offer him their support and he may not have felt so alone.

The main difference between us is that one of us had a support system and the other did not. I know having somebody by your side is a great help, especially mentally. I hope in the future he relies on his friends to help him through difficult times.

Despite the differences, there are many things, to which both teens and young adults with IBD can relate. I found an article on how we can all cope with IBD. Overall, the most important thing is to find a support system.

 


How Stress Affects IBD

Stress can have a major effect on one’s physical health. While stress is commonly associated with headaches and acne, it also has significant effects on ulcerative colitis. According to the journal Gastroenterology Research, exposure to extreme stress can cause a fivefold increase in one’s risk of relapse. Researchers also found that stress, bad mood, and significant life events are correlated to IBD flare-ups. In a study published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice, researchers found that psychological stress can lead to an increase in the permeability of the intestines, which causes symptoms such as a leaky bowel. They also found that stress affects the immune system, which can disrupt neurotransmitters and hormones. Additionally, IBD can increase stress through constant worry about symptoms and medication management.

Several stress-management techniques can help people with IBD avoid stress-related negative effects on mental and physical health. These are some of the techniques I have found useful:

 

  • Meditation

I use the Calm app, which talks the user through the meditation practice. It has different sets for different types of meditation.

  • Stretching

Stretching helps to relax muscles and promotes calmness.

  • Sleeping

Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress levels.

  • Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, which can increase happiness and lower stress levels.

  • Finding Someone to Talk To

Whether it be a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a teacher, find someone to talk to about your stress. Sometimes, venting can help you realize that you don’t have much to be stressed about.

  • Self-Care

Taking a break to read a book or listen to music can significantly lower stress levels.

 

I hope that these tips help you to handle stress a little bit better. It is important to keep your stress level as low as possible when suffering from IBD. Let me know in the comments what you do to combat stress.

 


How to Help Others with IBD

Whether you have IBD or you know someone IBD, there are several ways to help people who are having a tough time with their disease.

The first is very simple: Just be with them and support them; let them know you’re there for them. When I was in hospital, I received many messages and gifts from friends and family. This helped me to stay positive, and it was nice to know that people were thinking of me and hoping I would get better.

If you want to help on a bigger scale, become involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, which raises money to help people suffering from IBD. You can donate, or you can take part in fundraising events. By volunteering with the foundation, you can help many people around the world.

Volunteering at your local hospital is also a great way to help people with IBD. Patients don’t see many people besides their families and the staff, so seeing a friendly face is always nice. You can visit and play with younger children, or you can talk to older kids, young adults, and older people who have IBD.

When I was first diagnosed with IBD, my friends didn’t know what they could do to help when I was experiencing a flare-up. They found these ideas very helpful. By being a good friend and listener, donating if you can, and volunteering with a foundation or local hospital, you can help others with IBD.

I also did some research and found great articles and information on how to help others. This blog post gives specific information for caregivers. This information set also explains how to support someone with IBD. Lastly, this article gives a few easy tips on how to handle being around someone with IBD.