Your Body Controls Urination During Healthy Sleep

When awake, you likely have to urinate every two hours or so. If you did that at night, you’d have to wake up from sleep three or four times each night, but for people with healthy sleep and a healthy urinary system, you can sleep eight hours or more without urinating. How does your body manage this?

Many factors contribute to this. First, you’re not consuming additional fluids. All day, you’re drinking water, coffee, tea, soda, and all the fluid in your foods. Second, you’re not as active, so you’re not producing as much waste as your body needs to remove via the kidneys. 

However, the most important element is how your body manages the fluids you do have. The amount of urine your body produces is regulated by hormones, including vasopressin, also called antidiuretic hormone (ADH). During sleep, your brain produces high levels of ADH, causing your kidneys to preserve water and produce less urine.

How Sleep Apnea Disrupts Urine Control

When the soft tissues in our neck close, it limits our intake of oxygen, triggering a series of physiological events in our bodies that ultimately create a need to urinate:

  • First, the bloodstream’s oxygen supply decreases while carbon dioxide levels increase. This makes the blood more acidic; as a result, the heart rate drops, and the blood vessels in the lungs contract. This sends an alert to the brain, telling it to wake us up to reopen our airways.
  • Simultaneously, the heart begins to race and releases false signals of fluid overload, telling the body to get rid of sodium and water by urinating. This starts increased urine production by the kidneys. 

Now you’re awake with a relatively full bladder. This results in nocturia, or nighttime urination – causing you to get up to use the restroom numerous times per night. However, this can even lead to urinating in bed since you may not achieve full wakefulness with sleep apnea, especially since you have been getting poor and fragmented sleep for a significant time.

Confusing Symptoms

adult woman sleeping in bed

Sleep apnea can cause all sorts of vague symptoms that can confuse people. Sufferers often don’t know they have this serious condition because they’ve failed to tie their symptoms together. Men often believe that their nocturia is due to prostate enlargement. On the other hand, women often attribute their difficulties to bladder over-activity.

You should consider getting tested for sleep apnea if your nocturia is happening in conjunction with any of the following:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Maintenance insomnia
  • Snoring
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Attention and memory problems
  • Morning headaches

A sleep test is an easy way to eliminate a possible cause of nocturia.

Other Possible Causes of Nocturia

Although sleep apnea is a common cause of urinating at night, many other possible causes exist. These include:

  • Drinking too much fluid before bed: Try drinking less fluid overall, and avoid beverages with alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Diuretic medications: Some medications can encourage your body to produce more urine. Review your medications’ list of side effects or ask your doctor.
  • Incomplete bladder emptying: If you have bladder dysfunction and your bladder doesn’t empty fully when you urinate, it may need to empty more frequently, even with reduced urine production at night.
  • Health conditions, including:
    • Diabetes
    • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, enlarged prostate)
    • High blood pressure
    • Heart disease
    • Pelvic organ prolapse
    • Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause
    • Other sleep disorders

The extent to which these conditions lead to nocturia (and possible bedwetting) depends on genetics and psychological factors.

Get Relief from Nighttime Urination in Omaha

Nocturia isn’t something to be ashamed of. Nocturia affects about one in three adults over the age of 30 and about 50% of adults over the age of 50. However, it is something to take seriously. It may be a warning that something isn’t quite right. Fortunately, help is only a phone call away.

If you live in the Omaha area and suffer from nocturia and/or bedwetting and believe that you might have sleep apnea, please call (402) 493-4175 or contact us to set up a consultation with our dentists at Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.