Overactive bladder is linked to sleep apnea in women, according to research. Overactive bladder is characterized by a higher frequency and urgency to urinate, along with incontinence and frequent awakenings throughout the night to urinate (nocturia). The need to urinate throughout the night is also a common symptom of sleep apnea, but little research looking at the two conditions together has been conducted.
The findings come from researchers at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain. Seventy-two female participants completed questionnaires about their symptoms related to bladder control, urgency and frequency of urination, incontinence, and nocturia. The women were also asked to rate their discomfort with each of the symptoms.
The sixty-two women diagnosed with sleep apnea also had significantly higher scores on the prevalence of bladder symptoms.
Lead author Núria Grau said, “Overactive bladder has a prevalence of 16 percent among people over 40 years in Europe, and it is a difficult condition to live with, affecting a person’s quality of life. The findings of this study provide evidence that bladder control could be linked to sleep apnea, although we do not know whether one of the conditions causes the other. The next step in our research is to investigate the role of continuous positive airway pressure therapy in these patients and its impact on the symptoms of overactive bladder.”
Tips to sleeping better with OAB
Getting a good sleep with overactive bladder (OAB) can be a challenge as you frequently wake up to use the bathroom. This can leave you feeling tired and groggy in the morning, because you can’t get a full night’s rest.
Here are some tips for improving the quality of your sleep in spite of your overactive bladder.
- Make sure you are not drinking too many fluids prior to bedtime.
- Empty your bladder before getting into bed.
- Take your medication as directed – it may work best when taken on a routine schedule.
- Don’t allow for excess fluid to build up – this can be combated by bringing your legs up or wearing compression socks.
- Avoid trigger foods – you can determine your own trigger foods by keeping a food diary and documenting what you ate and how your bladder feels.
- Practice pelvic strengthening exercises like Kegels. These involve tightening your pelvic muscles as if you are holding in urine, holding, then releasing.
- Try switching up your sleep schedule – maybe you get the most sleep if you try going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, or vice versa.
- Listen to your body – if you’re ready to sleep, don’t try to fight it and stay up later than your body is telling you to.
- Ensure your bedroom promotes sleep – it should be a dark and cool room with no distractions to keep you awake.
- Create a nightly routine and stick to it.
- Try natural and herbal remedies to promote sleep – always consult with your doctor before trying natural remedies, especially if you are on other medications.
If these tips don’t help improve your sleep, be sure to address your concerns with your doctor. Aside from an overactive bladder, you may also have an underlying sleep problem.