On World Sleep Day, scientists are highlighting the number one reason that people are waking up at night – nocturia (otherwise known as the need to get up and urinate more than once during the night). It often has one or more contributing factors such as an overproduction of urine, reduced bladder capacity; certain illnesses and medications are also potential contributors. Although it is most common in older adults, nocturia can affect people of all ages and frequent sleep disturbances significantly impact daily living and can be a sign of more serious health conditions.
“Nocturia’s disruption to deep sleep results in reduced productivity and alertness that can affect multiple areas of an individual’s life during the day,” said Jens-Peter Nørgaard, Medical Director of Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Professor of Urology at Ghent University, Belgium. “From making it difficult to manage a busy daily schedule to negatively impacting productivity at work, sleep disruption has significant impact far beyond fatigue or night-time inconvenience.”
The effect that sleep disruption can have was measured recently in a study by Nokia Health, which designs smart health devices and apps. In the study sleep patterns were measured using Nokia sleep sensors and compared to self-reported quality of sleep. Of the over 19,000 people surveyed it was shown that frequency of nightly awakenings was the most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep – more than the total duration of sleep or the time people went to bed.
Lack of sleep from nocturia can lead to impaired daytime functioning, as well as reduced productivity and alertness. These frequent sleep interruptions are important as uninterrupted sleep is needed to sustain physical (including the immune system), mental and emotional health.
“People often ignore sleep disturbance from nocturia, but this can produce significant disruption to daytime functioning,” said Dr. Andrew Krystal, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at University of California, San Francisco. “It is important this is discussed with a healthcare professional, as this disruption is not just harmful in itself but can also be an indicator of more serious health conditions.”
Nocturia can also be a symptom of more serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. The impact of sleep disturbances can also lead to greater risk of serious health conditions such as increased risk of diabetes, weakened immune systems and heart disease. Similarly, individuals who suffer from chronic sleep disturbances experience reduced cognitive functioning, which can impact productivity, relationships and careers.