Can’t Sleep Due to Overactive Bladder? 4 Tips for Better Sleep

Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
Can't Sleep Due to Overactive Bladder
If you can’t sleep due to an overactive bladder, here are some tips that can help you manage or reduce symptoms

If you have an overactive bladder (OAB), it can be difficult to get quality sleep since it can make you wake up frequently throughout the night to use the bathroom. 

Here are 4 tips for getting a good night’s sleep with an overactive bladder

4 tips to getting better sleep with an overactive bladder

  1. Limit fluid intake before bedtime: Try to avoid drinking too many fluids after 6 p.m., since a full bladder can make you more prone to getting up during the night to urinate.
  2. Avoid bladder-irritating foods and beverages: Certain foods and beverages act as diuretics, meaning they increase the secretion of water from the body through urine. These include:
    1. Caffeine
    2. Alcohol
    3. Citrus juices
    4. Spicy foods
    5. Acidic foods
    6. Chocolates
    7. Artificial sweeteners
  3. Urinate twice before bedtime: Experts suggest that urinating twice before bedtime can help you prevent an overactive bladder from disrupting your sleep.
  4. Do Kegel exercises: If done regularly, Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic muscles and improve symptoms of an overactive bladder. Kegel exercises involve contracting and releasing the muscles around the opening of the urethra by starting and stopping the urine stream. These can be done 3-4 times a week.

What are the symptoms of overactive bladder?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a group of urinary symptoms including a frequent and strong urge to urinate, waking up at night to urinate, and incontinence.

The most common symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) include:

  • Sudden, strong, and uncontrolled urge to urinate
  • Urine leakage (urge incontinence)
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Nocturia (increased frequency of urination at night)

What causes an overactive bladder?

Normally, when your bladder is full, your brain signals the bladder muscles to contract, and this results in the opening of the urethral sphincter. This forces the urine out through the urethra, and a partially full or empty bladder is relaxed. 

Overactive bladder occurs when there is an impairment of normal functioning of the nerve signals between the bladder and the brain. This dysfunction can pass the signals to the bladder to void the urine, even if it is not full. In addition, OAB is caused by the hyperactivity of the bladder muscles that makes them contract to pass urine before the bladder is full. This, in turn, causes a sudden, strong need to urinate (urgency).

The amount of urine production usually decreases and becomes more concentrated at night, letting you sleep at least 6-8 hours without having to get up to use the bathroom more than once. However, people with OAB often need to get up to urinate several times a night, disrupting their normal sleep pattern and making them exhausted and sometimes leading to bedwetting.


Urinary Incontinence in Women: Types, Causes, and Treatments for Bladder Control See Slideshow

What are risk factors for an overactive bladder?

Risk factors for OAB include:

How is overactive bladder diagnosed?

Urologists can diagnose overactive bladder (OAB) by assessing symptoms and conducting certain tests. Diagnosis may involve:

  • Medical history: Involves the analysis of health history, experiences, past and current health problems, diet, and current medications.
  • Physical examination: Involves the examination of the abdomen and organs in the pelvis and rectum.
  • Urine test: Tests a sample of urine for infection.
  • Ultrasound of the bladder: Helps evaluate the residual amount of urine left after emptying the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy or urodynamic testing: Generally not needed but recommended if the doctor suspects some other pathological issue.

How is overactive bladder treated?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a treatable condition. Treatment options include the following:

  • Behavioral or lifestyle changes:
    • Keep a log of fluid intake, number of times you urinate, and frequency of incontinence or its relation to any activities such as coughing, laughing, or sneezing
    • Monitor your diet and avoid foods that may further worsen symptoms
    • Prevent constipation by consuming fiber-rich foods
    • Exercise regularly
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Quit smoking
    • Avoid stress
  • Medications: 
  • Nerve stimulation (neuromodulation): A reversible treatment that involves stimulating the nerves to help improve OAB. Types include:
    • Sacral nerve stimulation
    • Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation
    • Botox injections into the bladder muscle
  • Surgical procedures: For severe cases of OAB, augmentation cystoplasty may be recommended. This is a reconstructive procedure that uses parts of the bowel to replace parts of the bladder.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

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Urology Care Foundation. Overactive Bladder (OAB).