Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be very debilitating. Disturbed sleep is a common symptom associated with IBS so researchers are now investigating if improving melatonin levels can help IBS. 

We produce melatonin in the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates our circadian rhythm – which is how much time we are awake and asleep.

Melatonin & IBS

However, we also make melatonin in a much greater quantity in the gut where it affects gut motility and has anti-inflammatory effects. Let’s take a look at the possible links between melatonin, sleep disturbances, & IBS.

What the research shows

Gender and aging are important risk factors for individuals suffering from IBS. Many IBS patients have poor sleep quality and reduced levels of melatonin. In IBS-C, melatonin is seen to improve life quality and decreases pain but in IBS-D, the benefits are less apparent. We need more studies to see if these effects are due to sleep improvements, direct gut action of melatonin, or both. 

What we need to make melatonin

There are several ways we can ensure we produce adequate amounts of melatonin. Take a look at my previous post how we make melatonin. You’ll see from this that we need sufficient levels of protein, Vitamins B3 & B6, folate, zinc, and magnesium. You’ll also read in the link about those foods which contain melatonin and other ideas on how to improve our melatonin levels. Take a look. 

Obviously, our first goal should be to improve our production of melatonin in the body and see if that helps IBS symptoms. However,  if no improvement is seen, you could try supplementing with melatonin.

I’d love to know if you find a connection between sleep and symptoms so do email me or leave a comment below. If you want some ideas of which supplemental melatonin, I can help with that too. 

Interested in other melatonin blog posts?

Melatonin and cancer | How we make it and how it helps

Melatonin and Cancer | Using melatonin with chemotherapy 

Melatonin’s anti-estrogenic effects | Melatonin and cancer

Melatonin for palliative care | Melatonin & cancer

Chronobiology | Timing matters for melatonin & chemotherapy 

Melatonin, sleep disturbances & IBS

Melatonin & Migraines | Tolerable, effective prevention – coming next week.


Esteban-Zubero E., et al. (2017). Melatonin’s role as a co-adjuvant treatment in colonic disease: A review. Life Sciences.  Vol. 170 pp.72-81.

Jarrett, M., et al. (2000). Sleep disturbance influences gastrointestinal symptoms in women with irritable bowel syndrome. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Vol. 45 (5), pp.952-959

Tien Ho Siah, K et al. (2014). Melatonin for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol, Vol. 20 (10), pp 2492-98. 

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