Can Going to the Bathroom Too Often at Night Be Dangerous To Your Health

June 1, 2010

Here's a not too surprising study presented at the American Urological Association meeting: That two or more bathroom trips at night increases your chances of dying by 50% in men and 30% in women. The researchers mentioned poor sleep as a possible link, but didn't mention anything about obstructive sleep apnea. Studies have recently shown that the main reason why you get up to go to the bathroom is because you stopped breathing, and not because you make too much urine. Actually, you do make some more urine, due to increased production of atrial natriuretic hormone (ANH), due to dilation of the heart's atria during breathing pauses. 


The surprising finding in this study was that even in young men (20 to 49), two or more trips to the bathroom more than doubled the risk of death. This is also the age then obstructive sleep apnea begins to take hold. 

Knowing what we know, I believe that anyone who has to go to the bathroom too often at night, or even those that have to go often during the day should at least be screened for undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. What do you think?

2 Responses to “Can Going to the Bathroom Too Often at Night Be Dangerous To Your Health”

  1. Anna on June 2nd, 2010 11:28 am

    Makes sense to me, though I can see that the association might be due to a huge range of factors, including sleep apnea and poor sleep in general, which allows the sensation of a full bladder to be noticed and attended to.   My first thought is simply the health repercussions of accidental injuries which occur while up at night, including trips to the loo.
    My elderly MIL has had a few injuries from falls that resulted from nighttime trips out of bed in the dark.  The first time she slipped on a magazine she'd left on the floor next to the bed.  Her tibia sustained a hairline fracture and she needed a full leg cast for some time.  She walks with a cane now even though the fracture has healed.  Another time she was visiting one of her daughters and got up to get a drink of water from the kitchen, but didn't turn on any lights.  She fell over a box of veggies that has been delivered from a farm that evening, something unexpected near the entry to the kitchen.  She was pretty banged up and  checked out by a doctor, but her other daughter suspects she actually cracked some ribs as it took some time for the pain to subside.  
    It's important to make sure that for anyone who needs to get up at night (of any age and health condition) that there is adequate lighting, the walkway is clear of rugs and any other obstructions that can trip up sleeping wanderers, and that things like a drink of water, meds, tissues, etc. be placed at bedside so there is no need to get up, thereby greatly reducing the risk of injury.  
    Paying attention to factors which promote quality sleep are important, too.  I make sure to wear night clothes and use seasonal bedclothes that keep my temperature better regulated.  I'm perimenopausal, and while I don't have night sweats or hot flashes, I am prone to waking up feeling too warm in the wee hours of the morning, which often then prompts a trip to the loo.  Good choices when making the bed and dessing for bed can make a difference (using layers of lightweight bed clothes instead of a single heavy layer so I can fling back one or more layers to regulate insulation is one strategy I use; avoiding synthetic fabrics, which trap heat and perspiration, etc. is another).  
     
    I also have noticed fewer nighttime awakenings (and therefore fewer bathroom trips) if I apply a nasal dilator strip on my nose at bedtime.  Breathing better through my nose leaves me more refreshed the next day, too, even if my total hours of sleep were reduced by going to bed later or waking earlier than usual.

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