Background: Sleep difficulties play an important role in the maintenance and course of chronic abdominal pain disorders (RAP and IBD). Particularly among adolescents with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) or recurrent abdominal pain (RAP), adequate sleep seems to be important, as the diseases self and the associated symptoms can cause distress and impair daytime functioning. Hence it seems adequate to take a closer look concerning the sleep difficulties within the different conditions of abdominal pain especially in comparison to a healthy control. To our knowledge no former study compared sleep problems in youths with RAP and IBD as well as healthy controls. Thus the aim of the present study was to 1) evaluate sleep problems in the RAP and IBD and 2) compare the sleep problems of these abdominal pain diseases with a healthy control group.
Methods: 129 adolescents (14-25 years) took part in the online survey, with 58 suffering from IBD, 23 had RAP and 48 healthy controls. Adolescents completed sleep questionnaires as PSQI, SDSC or NEQ. Data was analysed by conducting MANOVAs to test differences between the three groups followed by a post-hoc analyses.
Results: Significant differences between both patient groups and healthy controls regarding sleep quality as well as sleep disturbances were found. Results indicate that especially young IBD patients suffered more often from poor sleep quality, sleep disturbances as well as daily effects of nightmares than the control group. The comparison of adolescents with RAP and healthy controls showed elevated scores concerning sleep disturbances for RAP patients. However, IBD and RAP adolescents did not differ significantly concerning most sleep measurements.
Discussion: The study at hand was the first to compare adolescents with IBD and RAP regarding sleep difficulties. Adolescents with IBD and RAP have an impaired sleep quality as well as a higher rate of sleep disturbances and suffer from daily effects of nightmares than the control group. Therefore sleep disturbances should be also addressed when treating IBD and RAP patients to prevent further impairments.