You already know the challenges and responsibilities of your IBD, but you'll meet many new ones as you start college or a new job. Will you be living at home with your parents? In a dorm? In an apartment with roommates? Wherever you are, your living space, class or work schedules, and new friends will probably bring up a whole new set of lifestyle choices. In this section, we'll talk about good health habits in general subjects, like sleep and exercise. In the linked articles to the left, we'll get more specific, talking honestly about your IBD in terms of diet and nutrition, alcohol and nicotine, sexuality, and travel.
Sleep? Who Needs Sleep?
You do! Your daily schedule may change a lot, and it may be easy for you to get into the habit of staying up very late, especially if you don't have morning classes or have to go to work the next day! Adults (remember, that's you now...we know, it takes some getting used to) still require 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep may affect your learning and memory, lead to emotional stress, affect your immune system, alter your metabolism, and contribute to cardiovascular risk. Lack of sleep may affect learning and memory...wait. Did we just say that? Hmm. Maybe we need more sleep.... Anyway, all adults -- not just those with IBD -- should try to hit that 7-8-hour per night goal. What will help you get that good night's sleep? Staying away from large meals, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the evening.
Do I Still Have to Care About Nutrition and Exercise?
The short answer: YES! The long answer: Proper nutrition and adequate exercise are key components of a healthy lifestyle for young adults with IBD. We'll talk more in-depth about diet and nutrition here, but good eating habits go hand in hand with regular exercise. Your exercise routine should be customized to match how you're currently feeling. Obviously, during a flare-up it's important not to overdo it, but it may be possible to try low-impact activities like walking, yoga, Pilates, or swimming. Regular physical activity may reduce your risk of an early death from cardiovascular disease. It may also help you maintain a healthy weight and help manage your stress level (you'll thank us during finals week, or your first employee review). Also, weight-bearing exercise may prevent osteoporosis, or low bone mineral density, which is a common risk for IBD patients. So what are you waiting for? Hit the gym!