If you have overactive bladder, your nighttime routine may look a lot like this: teeth brushed? Check. Face washed? Check. Bladder emptied? Check. Maybe one more time just in case. Bladder emptied … again. Check?
Then you scurry off to bed with another question mark hanging over your head, wondering how many more bathroom trips you’ll need to make later that night. Nocturia, or frequent nighttime voiding, is a common symptom of overactive bladder. Most people can sleep through the night without urinating, but more than one-third of adults suffering from nocturia make at least two trips to the bathroom every night.
“Nighttime urgency and frequent nighttime voiding is probably one of the worse health impacts of overactive bladder,” says Lauri Romanzi, MD, a urogynecologist in New York City. “It interferes with sleep, and anything that interferes with sleep night after night is not good for your health.”
To help limit frequent nighttime urination, try these tips:
1. Watch your fluid intake. Drinking a lot of liquid during the day, especially late in the day, can increase your likelihood of getting up in the middle of the night to go. Modify the pace and the timing of your fluid intake so that you avoid drinking in the late afternoon and early evening, says Dr. Romanzi. Here are tips to make sure you’re drinking the right amount of water for your body. And whatever you do, don’t make this drinking mistake that makes overactive bladder worse.
2. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. “Minimizing caffeine in the afternoon is crucial to avoiding nighttime voiding,” says Dr. Romanzi. Caffeine and alcohol can be bladder irritants as well diuretics, which cause increased urine production in the body. These are other foods to avoid with overactive bladder.
3. Elevate your legs. Elevating your legs helps redistribute fluids so it can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. “[It helps drain] the fluid out of your feet and legs up towards your kidneys, so that you can clear that fluid and urinate it out before you go to bed,” says Dr. Romanzi. Wearing compression socks can have a similar effect.
4. Time your meds. If you’re on overactive bladder medication, and one of your biggest problems is nighttime voiding, take the drug in the evening, says Dr. Romanzi.
5. Avoid long walks to the bathroom. If you are voiding a lot at nighttime, another strategy to have a way to urinate in your bedroom. Getting up and walking to and from the bathroom multiple times a night can affect your sleep quality. It can also raise your risk of falls and injury. “Have a commode chair right next to your bed, or if you’re a man, a urinal,” says Dr. Romanzi. “[Then you can] get back into bed quickly without having to wake yourself up.”
6. Talk to your doctor if there’s bedwetting. “For patients with overactive bladder, wetting the bed is actually uncommon,” says Dr. Romanzi. Nighttime bed-wetting (enuresis) could be a sign of another health issue. “[If you wet the bed] one time, you can probably let it go; it’s unlikely going to happen again as a result of overactive bladder,” she says. “But if it happens a second time, no matter how much time has passed in between, it’s a red flag and you really ought to have it evaluated.”