Insights on Sleeping With an Ostomy

We conducted a survey to better understand the impact that living with an ostomy has on sleep.

Learn the results of our Ostomy Sleep Survey

Sleep is vital for health and healing. Hormones released at night are responsible for cell growth and repair. We also need quality sleep for healthy cognitive functioning and so we can complete everyday tasks. A lack of sleep can lead to confusion, delayed healing, immunosuppression, elevated blood pressure, decreased pain tolerance, and many other negative effects.
If you have an ostomy, your quality of life may be impacted by the condition of the skin around your stoma (i.e., your peristomal skin), and issues like pouch ballooning and leakage. One area often not given much attention is how having an ostomy affects your sleep. Based on anecdotal evidence (i.e., clinician experiences and patient stories), we know that living with an ostomy can negatively impact sleep. But to what extent?


Ostomy Sleep Survey

To answer this question, Hollister conducted an Ostomy Sleep Survey1. The results revealed some interesting insights on how having a stoma impacts sleep and on how ostomates address their sleep issues.


To conduct this research, we collaborated with product distributors and patient organisations to provide nearly 6,000 people with a detailed 15-question online survey. Participants varied in type of ostomy and length of time living with an ostomy.


The survey included both those with healthy and unhealthy/compromised peristomal skin. Nearly 60% of participants were in the unhealthy category, although most of them (40%) reported only reddened skin and no other symptoms. (n=5,690)


The impact of sleeping with an ostomy

Many people experience interrupted sleep for various reasons, including insomnia, sleep apnea, stress, and environmental factors. However, those with an ostomy have an added layer of potential sleep disruption.


The survey results provided strong evidence of an ostomy’s impact on sleep:


  • Nearly 50% of respondents said their pouching system disrupted their sleep in the past 30 days (n=5,648) 
  • 75% experienced pouch-related sleep disruptions at least once a week (n=2,476) 
  • 64% of participants — nearly 2 in 3 — cited pouch ballooning as a sleep disrupter (n=2,676)
  • 50% said that sleep disruption was due to pouch leakage or worry that the pouch would fail (n=2,676) 
  • Nearly 20% said their sleep was disrupted by itchy skin with no visible sign of irritation (n=2,676) 


Nearly 55% of those with unhealthy peristomal skin said they had trouble sleeping. Yet only 37% of respondents with healthy peristomal skin experienced sleep issues. That makes those with unhealthy peristomal skin 1.5 times more likely to experience sleep disruptions than those with healthy peristomal skin.  (n=5,648) 


Addressing sleep disruptions

A surprising outcome of the survey was the large number of respondents who did nothing to resolve the ostomy-related issue that was causing their disrupted sleep. Nearly 40% — or two in five — took no action to fix the problem. (n=2,652) 


If you have an ostomy and are experiencing poor quality of sleep, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to improve the situation. Their recommendations may include changing your diet to avoid gas that can cause ballooning or switching to a ceramide-infused ostomy skin barrier to help prevent leaks and keep your skin healthy. Remember – getting good quality sleep is important to your overall health and your quality of life.


1. Hollister Data on File, ref-02989, 2022.