Sleep Apnea and Nighttime Urination

We’ve know for many years that frequent bathroom trips at night are not due to bladder or prostate problems, but mostly due to breathing pauses that make you wake up and and think that you have to go. Numerous studies have shown that most men and women who have to go to the bathroom often at night or have overactive bladders during the day actually have sleep apnea. 


A new study confirms these findings again, but points out that the presence of frequent trips to the bathroom is as sensitive in predicting obstructive sleep apnea as snoring! 


Sleep apnea also makes the body produce more urine, and because you wake up every few hours, you’ll want to go, but you won’t have a completely full bladder. Sudden shifts in blood flow into the heart after an obstructive event increases production of atrial natriuretic peptide, which makes you produce more urine. One study found that diluted levels of urine during these episodes is also predictive of having obstructive sleep apnea. 


I often see complete or near total resolution of these sort of problems after definitive sleep apnea treatment. 


Do you suffer from frequent nighttime urination, or have an "irritable" or overactive bladder during the day? Please enter your responses in the box below.

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12 thoughts on “Sleep Apnea and Nighttime Urination

  1. Diagnosis: UARS

    No to nighttime wakings to take a trip to the bathroom. Yes to overactive bladder during the day. Consistently worse just before my period; however, when discussed with my MD, she reported never hearing a correlation to OAB and hormonal changes. Interestingly, when on a trial of Provigil, OAB symptoms significantly improved (I believe that is due to Provigil’s effect on smooth muscle?).

    You provided the explanation for the nighttime issues. How does sleep disordered breathing play into the daytime issues? Is it the same mechanism? Would you expect a patient with SDB to have problems both daytime and nighttime?

  2. Sara,

    There are studies showing that SDB can cause both daytime and nighttime symptoms. Interestingly, the time just before your period is also when your sleep efficiency drops temporarily. Progesterone has been found to increase upper airway muscle tone. Since progesterone levels drop the most before your periods, it’s expected that your sleep efficiency drops as well. This can cause various internal organs to become hypersensitive (similar to what can happen to your bowels or even your nose), due to an imbalance of your involuntary nervous system.

  3. Very interesting…so, decreased sleep efficiency leading up to a monthly cycle may contribute to irritable mood.

  4. I’ve just commenced treatment for sleep apnea and am on my 3rd week with a CPAP machine. It’s already having good effect, although I’m still experimenting with preferred mask fits. Particularly I no longer have a minimum of 3 bathroom visits per night; I’m down to 1 or 2 and last night it was nil, hooray! The CPAP is well worth perseverance to get used to it; not easy at first but don’t give up – it’s like learning to scuba dive – getting used to breathing in the mask isn’t easy at first but soon becomes 2nd nature. Derek, 61 yrs, London.

  5. I just wanted to add that you do NOT have to snore in order to have sleep apnea. I have a septal perforation (hole in my septum) that causes congestion in my sinuses. The congestion causes me to have to mouth breath while I sleep which exacerbates my sleep apnea. Unfortunately, I have to get surgery to fix the perforation, and if the surgery works, THEN I can start working on the sleep apnea. I’m slender. I don’t smoke. I’m young. I don’t snore. I don’t fit a sleep apnea profile, but unfortunately, I still have it.

  6. I had a major hemorraghic stroke/2.5cm. bleed in my right frontal cortex which made me totally paralyzed on my left side. I realize now that I had chronic, severe sleep apnea with the whole frequent nighttime urination thing especially say the last 2-6months before the stroke.I didn’t even know I had sleep apnea .I thought that was something that old people or overweight people got.I probably had it for at least 10 years.I even had angina pains from all the water built up in my heart. It almost killed me, I’m lucky to be alive. Now I try to tell anybody who’s willing to listen.

    Bryan/Orange County,Ca

  7. Sleep apnea is a kind of sleep disorder. It is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or episodes of very low breathing that occur during sleep. Pauses in breathing, called apnea, can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes and can occur from 5 to upwards of 30 times in an hour. In case of any complex sleep apnea or mixed sleep apnea, you need to consult with a good medical practitioner.

  8. So I just started my CPAP machine and its awfully hard to get used to. that said, I dont usually go pee at night, but since I have used this machine, I have had to go every night since. Is there a correlation?

  9. Mr. Rosthern,

    Sorry to hear.
    CPAP can sometimes aggravate symptoms that it’s meant to treat.
    You may want to follow-up with your sleep physician.
    Good luck.

  10. My husband has sleep apnea and is urinating frequently at night. He is having a tough time getting started using the cpap machine due to not feeling comfortable about putting the mask on. Do you have any methods to help someone when they are first using a cpap?

  11. i suffer from night time urination but do not wake up and also over active bladder in the day time…the feeling of always wanting to urinate is always there..i have been tested for sleep apnea and am sure that i have this problem. does sleep apnea cause both day and night time constant urination..