Bathroom Visits May Add to Sleep Problems for Seniors

In older people with insomnia, nighttime awakenings last longer if they get up to urinate, study finds

THURSDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Having to get up at night to urinate may worsen the already poor sleep of older people with insomnia, a new study suggests.

Treatment of this problem, called nocturia, might help improve the sleep quality among these seniors, the researchers said.

The study included older men and women with insomnia. Their patterns of sleeping and waking up to urinate during the night were evaluated for two weeks. The investigators found that 54 percent of all nighttime awakenings were associated with having to urinate.

The more often a person had to go to the bathroom during the night, the poorer their self-reported quality of sleep, according to the study, which was published online March 15 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

In addition, the study authors noted that nighttime awakenings were 11.5 percent longer on nights when people had to go to the bathroom. Waking up during the night to use the bathroom, however, had no effect on total sleep time.

"The results raise the clinical question of treating nocturia to help individuals with insomnia," study lead author Jamie Zeitzer, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "That is, could much of the insomnia or poor sleep that occurs in older individuals be alleviated by treatment of nocturia? Of course, the opposite is quite possible -- that proper treatment of insomnia might reduce the occurrence of nocturia."

Nocturia disturbs the sleep of up to three-fourths of older people, the study authors noted in the news release.

More information

The National Association for Continence has more about nocturia.

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