Bladder leaks? Four ways to take action
Getting woken up in the night is annoying, whatever the reason. But if your sleep is being interrupted by the need to pee, you might have a very common condition called nocturia.
Nocturia affects around 42% of women and 59% of men over 60. Although it can occur at any age, it’s more likely as you get older because your body produces less antidiuretic hormone, which in turn means your kidneys produce more urine.
Nocturia can be caused by a number of medical conditions and lifestyle factors. These include:
A common culprit is an overactive bladder (OAB) – this leads to a sudden urge to pee, and it affects one in three women in the UK and 30% of men.
Diabetes, particularly when unmanaged, can be another cause, as fluctuating blood sugar levels can mean the kidneys produce extra urine. Also, a common symptom of diabetes is thirst, and more drinking equals more peeing.
A medical condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia – or enlarged prostate – which mainly affects men, stops your bladder from emptying completely, resulting in more frequent trips to the toilet.
Different types of incontinence all make it harder to hold in urine, which can mean unwanted leaks and more trips to the bathroom, including at night. Certain medications, such as those for high blood pressure, can also lead to nocturia.
When it comes to lifestyle factors, excess caffeine, alcohol, spicy and acidic foods can irritate the bladder, especially when consumed too close to bedtime, leading to more unwanted nighttime disturbance. And be aware of your fluid intake – guzzling down water or that last cup of tea late at night might just be the reason you’re losing sleep.
If you are prone to midnight toilet trips, you’ll know just how hard it is to get proper rest. As well as being exhausting, broken sleep can, over time, lead to further health issues including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to limit the problem – and healthcare brand Jude can help.
Much like turning off screens can help calm the mind ready for sleep, reducing the amount you drink a few hours before bed can have the same effect on the body. Limiting fluids four to six hours before bedtime can make it less likely you’ll need to get up in the night to pee. Just make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
Certain foods can also trigger nocturia. Spicy and acidic foods, particularly hot salsas and sauces made with tomatoes, can put you in a world of pain when it comes to overactive bladder symptoms.
There are also certain foods you can eat to relieve nocturia symptoms. As women age, particularly during the menopause, oestrogen levels naturally decline, which can affect muscle function in the bladder and sleep quality. But phytoestrogens, found in sources such as soy, could counteract this – boosting oestrogen levels. So taking supplements with phytoestrogens could help improve bladder health and sleep.
Noting down what aggravates or improves your symptoms, and when, can help to pinpoint foods and drinks that may be part of the problem. Jude’s free Bladder Care Dairy is a simple tool that can help you to do this.
In fact, just one daily dose of Jude’s Bladder Strength Supplements contains the nutrient equivalent of 96 pumpkin seeds, along with soy phytoestrogen – a high-quality plant-based compound that mimics oestrogen.
These natural ingredients are clinically proven to help strengthen pelvic muscles and reduce feelings of urgency at night and in the day. And they also aid sleep quality, meaning you are less likely to be woken in the night.
Tried and tested by more than 16,000 people in the UK, Jude’s Bladder Strength Supplements were developed with urogynaecologists and Harvard Medical School professor Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk, PhD, MBA. Leena recommends a course of at least 12 weeks for best results.
Fluid buildup can contribute to nocturia, but wearing compression socks in the day could help by redistributing fluids back into the bloodstream.
The socks have the additional health benefit of boosting circulation (something that naturally deteriorates as we get older); they move the blood flow away from your ankles and back up to your heart and all your vital organs, helping to prevent blood clots.
It might sound odd, but peeing in the “right” position can make a huge difference when it comes to nocturia. Doing so will make sure you fully empty your bladder.
Here’s how: lean forward with elbows on knees as you pee, then when you’re done, squeeze your pelvic-floor muscles. This applies to both women and men; men are also advised to adopt a sitting position if they’re struggling to empty their bladder.
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Written by Maddy Biddulph she/her
Maddy is a freelance journalist specialising in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 25 years of experience in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the UK and US.
She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.
Maddy has always had a keen interest in health and fitness, and has recently become addicted to cold-water swimming and its mental health benefits. She trains weekly with her mentor and personal trainer Alexa Hunn-Phillips, who used to play football for England.
Maddy lives in Oxford with her two daughters, Daphne and Esther.