Save 15% + FREE shipping when you Subscribe & Save. SHOP NOW

Do Sleep Habits Affect Constipation in Kids?


While the relationship between sleep and overall health is well-established, the influence of sleep on digestive issues like constipation in kiddos is less understood. In this blog post, we'll review what the current studies tell us about how sleep can potentially be related to constipation in your little ones.

What is Constipation in Kids?

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal issue characterized by infrequent bowel movements, difficulty passing stools, and/or hard, dry stools. It can cause discomfort and impact the overall well-being of kiddos if left unaddressed.

The Role of Sleep in Digestive Health

  • Circadian Rhythms: The body's internal clock, regulated by circadian rhythms, influences various physiological processes, including digestion. Disruptions to regular sleep patterns can affect the body's natural rhythms, potentially impacting gastrointestinal function.

  • Gut Motility:Sleep plays a role in regulating gut motility, the movement of food and waste through the digestive tract. Adequate sleep supports healthy gut motility, while sleep disturbances or insufficient sleep may slow down bowel movements, contributing to constipation.

  • Stress and Relaxation:Quality sleep is essential for reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation, both of which are important for healthy digestion. Stress can exacerbate gastrointestinal issues, including constipation, while relaxation facilitates optimal bowel function.

Research Insights on Sleep and Constipation

  • A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition found that kiddos with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), such as snoring or sleep apnea, were more likely to experience constipation compared to those without SDB. The researchers suggested that disturbances in sleep quality and oxygen levels during sleep may contribute to gastrointestinal issues.

  • Another study published in the journal Sleep Medicine revealed that children with insomnia or sleep disturbances were more likely to report functional gastrointestinal disorders, including constipation. The researchers hypothesized that disruptions to sleep patterns may affect gut motility and exacerbate constipation symptoms.

Practical Tips for Supporting Digestive Health

  • Establishing a Consistent Bedtime Routine:Creating a calming bedtime routine and ensuring kiddos get adequate sleep each night can support healthy digestion and bowel function.

  • Encouraging Relaxation Techniques:Incorporating relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or gentle yoga before bedtime may help reduce stress levels and promote better sleep quality, benefiting digestive health.

  • Addressing Sleep Disorders: If kiddos experience persistent sleep disturbances or symptoms of sleep disorders like snoring or sleep apnea, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for evaluation and appropriate management.


Sleep plays a crucial role in digestive health, and disruptions to sleep patterns or inadequate sleep may contribute to constipation in kiddos. By prioritizing healthy sleep habits and addressing sleep disturbances, parents can support optimal digestive function and overall well-being in little ones.


  • Marcus CL, Brooks LJ, Draper KA, et al. Diagnosis and management of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Pediatrics. 2012;130(3):e714-e755.
  • Cortesi F, Giannotti F, Sebastiani T, Vagnoni C, Paganelli R, Nicoletti M. Gastrointestinal symptoms in primary school children: relations with temperament and family environment. Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 2009;21(8):877-e839.
  • Joinson C, Grzeda MT, von Gontard A, Heron J. Psychosocial risks for constipation and soiling in primary school children. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2019 Feb;28(2):203-210. doi: 10.1007/s00787-018-1162-8. Epub 2018 May 10. PMID: 29748737; PMCID: PMC7019639.
  •  Khanijow V, Prakash P, Emsellem HA, Borum ML, Doman DB. Sleep Dysfunction and Gastrointestinal Diseases. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2015 Dec;11(12):817-25. PMID: 27134599; PMCID: PMC4849511.
  • Kierlin, L., & Syed, S. (2021). Pediatric Functional Constipation: What We Know and How We Can Help. Children, 8(3), 173.
  • Yamada, E., & Aihara, K. (2018). Effects of sleep disorders on the gastrointestinal tract. Internal Medicine, 57(8), 1027–1035.
  • Lucey, B. P., & Bateman, R. J. (2014). Amyloid-β diurnal pattern: possible role of sleep in Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis. Neurobiology of Aging, 35(Suppl 2), S29–S34.
  • Chang, F. Y. (2013). Sleep and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 28(Suppl 4), 22–25.
  • Mindell, J. A., & Owens, J. A. (2015). A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems. Wolters Kluwer.

Also in Learn

Benefits of Fructo-Ogliosaccharides for Kids’ Gut Health
Benefits of Fructo-Ogliosaccharides for Kids’ Gut Health

5 Fun Ways to Incorporate Gut-Friendly Foods into Kids' Meals and Snacks
5 Fun Ways to Incorporate Gut-Friendly Foods into Kids' Meals and Snacks

Top Foods to Avoid for Kids with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Top Foods to Avoid for Kids with Irritable Bowel Syndrome