HealthDay News — Patients who sleep less or more than the recommended seven to eight hours per night may be at greater risk of developing ulcerative colitis, according to researchers.

“Both short and long durations of sleep have important health implications and are associated with increased overall mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” said Ashwin N. Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital in a press release from the American Gastroenterological Association.

To examine the association between sleep duration and ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease, the inspectors conducted a prospective study of women who were enrolled the Nurses’ Health Study in 1976 and the Nurses’ Health Study II in 1989. Every other year, the women completed detailed questionnaires. The investigators’ findings were published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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Among the 15,871 study participants, there were 191 confirmed cases of Crohn disease (incidence, 8/100,000 person-years) and 230 cases of ulcerative colitis (incidence, 10/100,000 persons-years) over 2,292,849 person-years.

Compared with women who reported usual sleep durations (seven to eight hours per night), women with reported sleep duration of <six hours per day or more than nine hours per day had a higher incidence of ulcerative colitis (P<0.05).

Sleep duration did not modify risk of developing Crohn disease, and duration of rotation night shift work was not associated with either Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis, reported the study authors.

“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,” noted the researchers.


  1. Ananthakrishnan AN et al. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2014; doi: