Many prostate patients suffer from what is called nocturia. That’s but a fancy of way of saying they have to run to the bathroom frequently to urinate at night. But you don’t have to be a prostate patient to experience nocturia. In fact, you don’t even have to be a male. Men and women alike suffer from nocturia and find themselves running to the bathroom a lot at night. It can disturb your partner in addition to disrupting your own sleep. So, can anything be done about it or must you go about suffering this indignity? The answer is, yes, Virginia, you can do something about it. But before we tell you what you can do, let’s tell you what’s going on here and why you are on the run at bedtime.
First of all, prostate patients, if you have an enlarged prostate, you may find yourself suffering from nighttime urinary frequency. And many men complain that despite what is called prostate-directed treatment offered by your urologist just isn’t doing the trick.
Nocturia is caused by an aging bladder, and it’s the result of changes in the bladder wall and changes in nerve signals that tell the bladder to relax. So just as we find that our joints and muscles are not as flexible when we are older as they were when we were younger, we find that there is a loss of elasticity in the bladder as we age. And with loss of elasticity in the bladder, pressure within the bladder rises at lower volumes and the brain receives a signal more frequently that the bladder is full! Result: a trip to the bathroom. Besides, there’s our biologic clock messing us up. It’s responsible for the body’s daily rhythms, and while it’s supposed to tell the body to re-absorb water so we can sleep undisturbed, guess what? It slips up and there is no watchmaker in sight. So it’s back to the bathroom once again.
Now that you understand urinary mechanics 101, what can you do about it?
1) Significantly cut back on all beverages in the evening. Especially, drinks containing caffeine and/or alcohol.
2) Wear compression stockings. If you are retaining fluid in the lower part of your legs and feet, wearing compression stockings before going to bed could help reduce the fluid retention and the increased urination at night.
3) If you are on diuretic medications (water pills) for treating high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about changing the time you take the pills. A lot of patients find that when they take their meds in mid to late afternoon—6 hours before bedtime—their nighttime urination problems are resolved.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, speak to your doctor about ways you can adjust your CPAP (continuous positive-flow airway pressure ) device. There are special ways for apnea patients to reduce nocturia.