Self-report and polysomnographic measures of sleep in women with irritable bowel syndrome

Author(s): Heitkemper M, Charman AB, Shaver J, Lentz MJ, Jarrett ME


Background: Women who report chronic gastrointestinal symptoms compatible with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) frequently report sleep disturbances.

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (a) compare self-reported and polysomnographic indicators of sleep quality in women with IBS symptoms (IBS-SX, n= 16) and controls (n= 16); (b) examine the relationship between the indicators of sleep quality; and (c) determine the relationship between sleep indicators and psychological distress.

Method: The women slept in a laboratory for 2 consecutive nights. Polysomnographic measurements were recorded during sleep, and a sleep questionnaire was completed upon awakening each morning. Psychological distress was measured with the Symptom Checklist-90-R during the initial interview.

Results: Women in the IBS-SX group reported significantly greater numbers of awakenings during sleep (p = .008) and had a longer latency to REM sleep (p = .04) than did the controls. Self-reported and polysomnographic indicators were more highly correlated in the control group than in the IBS-SX group. In the IBS-SX group, the greater the psychological distress, the less alert (rs = .419) and rested (rs = .564) the women felt in the morning and the more time the women spent in stages 3 and 4 sleep (rs = .479) and less in stage 2 (rs = -.447) and REM (rs = -.414) sleep. In the control group, psychological distress was not significantly associated with self-reported measures but was significantly associated with the number of awakenings (rs = .506) and time in stages 3 and 4 sleep (rs = -.677).

Conclusions: Although the women in the IBS-SX group reported significantly more awakenings, the weak relationship between self-reported and polysomnographic indicators suggests that clinicians must keep in mind that further assessments may be necessary.

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