Many of the symptoms of sleep apnea affect your life during the day–daytime sleepiness, inability to focus, and low energy, for example. But some of them impact you at night, although you may not recognize them at first as being symptoms. Nighttime urination is commonly linked to sleep apnea, and it can be a serious nuisance. Fortunately, if it’s bothering you, sleep apnea treatment can help reduce or eliminate your need to wake up to urinate at night.

Close up of a toilet

Why Sleep Apnea Can Cause Nocturia

As a breathing disorder, you might not immediately think there’s a strong link between sleep apnea and nighttime urination, but the link is very strong. In fact, scientists recently learned that bedwetting is a strong sign of sleep apnea in postmenopausal women. And it’s likely that there are multiple links between the two conditions.

Probably the simplest explanation is that sleep apnea wakes you up many times at night. It makes sense that during one or more of the awakenings you’ll notice that you have to urinate, so you get up.

Of course, this doesn’t explain the link with bedwetting, so it’s likely that there’s more going on here. Another possible link is the hormone vasopressin. Vasopressin helps your body suppress the production of urine at night, but sleep apnea interferes with your body’s ability to produce vasopressin. This means that your body will produce more urine at night, and you’ll need to get up to urinate more often.

Treating Sleep Apnea Decreases Nocturia

And, it turns out, the effect is very common among people with sleep apnea. According to a study recently presented at the European Association of Urology’s convention in London recently, about 69% of patients with sleep apnea experienced nocturia. With about 5-7% of the population having sleep apnea, that’s millions of Americans who likely have excess urination at night related to sleep apnea.

The good news is that treating sleep apnea can reduce nocturia. Researchers found that treating sleep apnea reduced nocturia for most people: 65% reported significant improvement in their nighttime urination. About half of patients who had previously awakened twice nightly to urinate now slept through the night!

Limitations of the Study

These are good results, but they’re still preliminary. The evidence was presented at a scholarly conference, which means they haven’t gone through a thorough peer review. But the findings are consistent with other measures showing quality of life and health improvements related to treating sleep apnea.

If you would like to learn more about how sleep apnea treatment can help you, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with Wilmington, NC sleep dentist Dr. Michael J. Kuzma.