The following is a summary of “Impact of Sleep Disturbance on Fatigue, Nausea, and Pain: Mediating Role of Depressive Symptoms Among Youth With Disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction,” published in the October 2023 issue of Pediatrics by Bedree, et al.
Many young individuals with disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBIs) report significant sleep disturbances. Given the impact of sleep quality on various aspects of pediatric health, such as somatic sensations (e.g., pain), and the relatively high prevalence of depressive mood among youth with DGBIs, it was essential to understand how sleep and depressive mood contribute to the somatic sensations experienced by these individuals. For a study, researchers sought to investigate whether depressive mood acts as a mediator in the relationships between sleep disturbances and the intensity of pain, nausea, and fatigue in youth with DGBIs.
A total of 118 patients between 8 and 17 years of age (Mage = 14.05, SD = 2.88; 70.34% female), with 83.05% identified as White/non-Hispanic, were recruited from a pediatric neurogastroenterology clinic. Participants completed assessments related to sleep disturbances, nausea, fatigue, pain intensity, and depressive mood. Three mediation models were employed to analyze how sleep disturbances affected nausea, fatigue, and pain, with depressive mood acting as a mediator.
The participants reported moderate sleep disturbances. Depressive mood partially mediated the significant relationships between increased sleep disturbances and more severe symptoms of nausea and fatigue. While sleep disturbance was significantly associated with higher pain intensity, depressive mood did not act as a significant mediator in this relationship.
The study highlighted the significant issue of poor sleep quality among youth with DGBIs. Lower sleep quality may exacerbate feelings of nausea and fatigue due to concurrent increases in symptoms of depressive mood. In contrast, sleep disturbances may directly intensify feelings of pain, independent of the depressive mood of the individuals. Future research should further explore these relationships using prospective studies that combine both subjective and objective assessment methods.