About 16 percent of the population over the age of 18 suffer from what’s known as overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome, meaning they have to urinate many times during the night, sometimes uncontrollably (wetting the bed).
Obviously, OAB can seriously interrupt one’s sleep and cause problems for the sufferer. For most people, their urine concentrates at night, allowing them to sleep for six to eight hours without having to visit the bathroom more than once. Not so for those with OAB.
“It can disrupt sleep completely, and people can be extremely overtired,” says Luis Sanz, MD, director of urogynecology and pelvic surgery at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va.
What to do if you suffer from OAB? Can you control or regulate it?
The first step is to avoid all liquids after 5 or 6 p.m. and try to avoid entirely those liquids that create more need to urinate, such as caffeine, alcohol, cranberry juice and citrus juices. Some foods also increase the need to urinate, so avoid spicy foods, chocolate and acidic foods like tomatoes. Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to cause increased need to urinate.
Finally, there’s something called the Kegel exercises that will help you control your bladder. As WebMD explains:
“Kegels simply involve contracting and releasing the muscles around the opening of your urethra, just as you do when going to the bathroom. You can learn what a Kegel exercise feels like by starting, then stopping, your urine stream. Start with three sets of 8-12 contractions. Hold them for six to 10 seconds each and perform these three to four times per week.”
As always, if you have any sleep problem that is interfering with your sleep or your next day’s wakefulness, you should seek professional help. Don’t shrug off sleep problems as “normal.” Poor sleep is not normal.