"I'm OK during the day but disaster strikes at night! I have to get up 3....4....5... or more times. I am exhausted and can't think straight." Does this sound familiar? It does to many of our clients, we hear it all the time.
What's a girl (or guy) to do?
Past blogs have discussed day time frequency and urgency. And now it is time to tackle the night.
It is considered normal to get up 0 times at night before menopause and 1 time at night after menopause. This is due to hormonal and other changes that occur as you age ( unfair but true).
Not urinating for long periods during the day (5-6 hours and more-teachers and nurses we mean you!) actually makes your night time problem worse. Your bladder has to empty sometime. At night, when you are not so busy, your bladder can finally get your attention.
Not drinking enough water can backfire on you. Remember that your kidneys are always at work making urine. If you don't drink enough water, your urine is more concentrated and often more irritating to your bladder. You may have to go to the bathroom more often but only tinkle , tinkle. That's annoying!
Your bladder is very trainable and will take on any habit that you teach it. We tell our new moms, don't go to the bathroom every time you get up with the baby. Soon the baby will sleep through the night but you won't.
Your bladder acts as a storage tank so there will always be some urine in it. Just because you are aware of some urine in your bladder doesn't mean you need to empty.
Terrific tips to help you understand and manage your bladder
First, whip your bladder into shape during the day. Take your bladder to boot camp- see previous blogs for training tips. As your days improve so do the nights. If you are urinating every hour during the day, how can you expect your bladder to hold 8 hours worth of urine?
On the flip side, if you never urinate during the day ( you know who you are!) you give your bladder lots to do during the night. Even if you don't "feel like it", go to the bathroom every 3-4 hours during the day. You need to be kind to your bladder so that it is kind to you.
Most people should drink about 48oz of water per day ( that is that 6-8 glasses of water that you always hear about). Remember caffeinated beverages and juices are not water and may aggravate your bladder.
When you wake up in the middle of the night ( hot flash?, insomnia?, a funny noise?, baby crying? dog barking?, etc) and find yourself automatically walking to the bathroom, ask your self this question: "Do I really have to go now or I'm going because I don't want to get up later ?" If you are getting up for any of these reasons ( and not because your bladder woke you up), you are teaching your bladder a new nasty habit. Easy to do and hard to break.
Don't be fooled into thinking you needed to empty your bladder just because you can urinate. That small amount wasn't a reason to go. Remember ( from previous blogs) that a normal bladder doesn't need to be kept empty. The bladder is a storage tank.
For those of you who leak on the way to the bathroom, we recommend using the urge suppression tips ( see previous blogs) as you get out of bed and while walking to the bathroom.
Mary and Kathleen
Night time frequency/ urgency can be a sign of a medical problem. Contact your health care provider for any change in your health status. This blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical care or advice.