Best sleeping positions for an overactive bladder

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Overactive bladder (OAB) refers to a group of urinary symptoms, the most prominent of which is a sudden, urgent need to urinate.

Research has estimated its prevalence in the United States to be between 16.5 and 35.6 percent.

Overactive bladder occurs when your bladder muscles contract involuntarily when your bladder is not full. Although the exact cause is unknown, it can occur due to poor signaling between your brain and your bladder. It can also be caused by overactive bladder muscles.

Living with an overactive bladder can have a huge impact on your quality of life, as it can be difficult to do daily activities without going to the bathroom frequently. Since OAB can come on suddenly, you may also feel anxious if you’re not near a bathroom.

Sleep can also be affected. We think that 85.6% of people with overactive bladder have nocturia, which is when you wake up several times during the night to urinate. Poor sleep can have negative consequences on your physical and mental health.

If you suffer from an overactive bladder, you may be wondering if certain sleeping positions can help reduce your need to urinate at night. Read on as we explore this and other ways to promote a good night’s sleep with OAB.

There currently isn’t much research specific to the best sleeping position for an overactive bladder. A general rule is to choose one that is both comfortable for you, leads to restful sleep, and does not contribute to pain upon waking.

There are a few things about overactive bladder, sleep, and body position that are important to know. Let’s examine them now.

Lateral sleep for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea was associated with OAB symptoms in both Men and women. This may be due to the effects of apnea events, which can lead to low tissue oxygen in the body, including the urinary system. However, further research is still needed.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and overactive bladder, sleeping on your side can help. It is estimated that switching from sleeping on your back to sleeping on your side can eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnea in about 20 percent of people.

Sleep apnea management can also help relieve your overactive bladder symptoms. A 2021 study found that participants who used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or surgery for sleep apnea had a significant reduction in overactive bladder symptoms.

Consider body positioning during the day

It may seem counterintuitive, but making a few adjustments to your body position during the day can help you at night.

Lying down can actually help increase urination. Research from 2009 on people with nocturia have found that daytime fluid accumulation in the legs is associated with increased urine volume at night.

This is because the fluid that builds up in your legs when you’re standing is better distributed through your bloodstream when you lie down. Since your kidneys filter excess fluids from the bloodstream, this can contribute to urine production.

Elevating your legs throughout the day and wearing compression socks can help redistribute the fluids in your bloodstream during this time instead of letting them build up. This can help avoid multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This can be especially helpful if you have an overactive bladder and another health condition that causes fluid buildup in your legs and ankles. Here are some examples :

Similar to sleep positions, there really isn’t much research on what type of mattress is optimal for OAB. When looking for a mattress, it’s important to find one that maximizes comfort while providing support for your body.

2015 research suggests that a medium-firm mattress is best for sleep quality, comfort, and spinal support. However, you will also need to consider your specific needs, such as:

  • the position in which you sleep
  • Your body type
  • if you share your bed with a partner
  • if you have pre-existing neck or back pain
  • your price range

Some people with an overactive bladder may also experience what is called urge incontinence. This is when a strong urge to urinate occurs and urine comes out before you can get to the toilet.

If you find that you suffer from urge incontinence due to overactive bladder, you may consider using protective products for your bed and mattress. Here are some examples :

There are several things you can do to avoid having to urinate at night because of an overactive bladder. These include:

  • Reduce liquids in the evening. While it’s important to stay hydrated during the day, limit your fluid intake, especially those containing alcohol and caffeine, within 2-4 hours of bedtime.
  • Double urination before bedtime. Some people with OAB have trouble completely emptying their bladder. Double urination, or emptying your bladder twice, can help. Before going to bed, empty your bladder once, wait a few minutes, then try again.
  • Avoid triggers. Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and increase your need to urinate. Some you may want to avoid, especially later in the day, are:
    • sodas and other soft drinks
    • drinks made with artificial sweeteners
    • acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes

Since dealing with nocturia due to overactive bladder can be stressful, it’s also a good idea to make sure your bedroom is an environment that promotes sleep. Here are some things to consider:

  • establish a sleep schedule and a relaxing bedtime routine that you can stick to
  • making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature
  • limit or avoid the use of televisions, cell phones, and computers or tablets in your bedroom
  • make sure the path to the bathroom is clear, in case you need to get up to urinate

If you suffer from an overactive bladder, there are different treatments that can help you. These include both medical treatments and things you can do at home.

Sticking to your OAB treatment plan can help avoid frequent trips to the bathroom, day or night. Now let’s take a look at some of the overactive bladder treatment options.

home remedies

Some of the steps you can take at home to manage OAB include:

  • Reduce fluid intake. Reduce fluid intake to 6 to 8 glasses of water per day can reduce the amount of urine you produce. However, it’s important to stay hydrated, so follow your doctor’s instructions about fluid intake carefully. Also remember not to drink too much water near bedtime.
  • Avoid triggers. As mentioned above, certain foods and drinks can irritate your bladder and make your symptoms worse. Consider limiting or avoiding these triggers.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of many health problems and can irritate the bladder. If you currently smoke, consider talking to a doctor about developing a quit plan that you can stick to. It’s often difficult, but a doctor can help you create a plan that’s right for you.
  • Bladder training. Bladder training involves urinating on a regular schedule and can help increase your bladder capacity. You’ll usually start with a short interval, like 30 minutes, and gradually increase the time between trips to the bathroom, sometimes up to several hours.
  • Pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. It can help you retain urine better and suppress urinary urgency. Ask your doctor which physiotherapists specialize in pelvic floor therapy.

Tracking when you need to urinate with a bladder diary can also give you more insight into how factors like fluid intake and food impact your symptoms. It can also help you track bladder training progress.

Medical treatments

There are prescription medications that are available to help with overactive bladder. A doctor may recommend them when home care isn’t helping to manage your symptoms.

Medicines for overactive bladder can be given as a pill, gel, or transdermal patch. These include:

  • antimuscarinics, such as oxybutynin (Ditropan) and tolterodine (Detrol)
  • beta-3 agonists, such as mirabegron (Myrbetriq)

These drugs work by blocking certain types of nerve impulses to the muscles of the bladder. This can prevent these muscles from contracting when they shouldn’t.

If home care and the use of medications do not lead to improvement, other potential medical treatments for an overactive bladder include:

  • Botox injections into the bladder muscle
  • stimulation of the nerve pathways that serve the bladder
  • surgery to increase bladder capacity or redirect urine flow

Sleep is important for your physical and mental health. Poor sleep can impact your alertness and memory, increase your stress levels, and increase your risk of health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Make an appointment with a doctor if you find that your overactive bladder symptoms cause you to get up frequently to go to the bathroom at night. They can recommend methods to help reduce your urinary frequency.

It’s also a good idea to speak with a doctor if the strategies you’re currently using to prevent nocturia become less effective or stop working. Your OAB treatment plan may need to be adjusted.

Many people with OAB suffer from nocturia, which is frequent urination at night. There is no optimal sleeping position for an overactive bladder. Generally speaking, it is better to choose the one that suits you best while promoting good sleep.

Sleeping on your side may be the best option if you suffer from both overactive bladder and sleep apnea. Elevating your legs throughout the day may also help reduce the need to urinate at night for some people.

Other ways to reduce nocturia with OAB include limiting fluids at night and double urination before bedtime. Treatments like bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, and medications can help improve your general overactive bladder symptoms.

Talk to a doctor if you have an overactive bladder that interferes with your sleep or if your methods of limiting nocturia stop working. They can help recommend other ways that can help reduce the frequency of urination at night.

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