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Incontinence and Sleep, What You Need to Know About (Especially Poor Sleep)

Posted by Lauren Harris on
Incontinence and Sleep, What You Need to Know About  (Especially Poor Sleep) - QuickChange Men's Incontinence Wrap


According to the World Health Organization, 200 million people are affected by bladder problems, and approximately a quarter of them are men. Typically, men experience incontinence due to an enlarged prostate or after prostate surgery, which can affect not only day-to-day activities but also sleep. For those over the age of 60, urinary incontinence can lead to adult bedwetting and having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night, leading to injuries. 

Adult bedwetting, also known as sleep enuresis, is nothing to be ashamed of; there are effective treatments available to help keep you dry overnight. Something worth noting, adult bedwetting is different from what children experience; nocturnal enuresis is involuntary. The factors that may contribute to nocturnal enureses include genetics, hormonal imbalance, small bladder, overactive bladder muscles, urinary tract infection, medication, stress, and other health issues.

Six Types of Incontinence 

There are six different types of incontinence that most commonly affect men and women. The most common types are:  

-Urgency incontinence: You feel a sudden, urgent need to urinate, followed by accidental leakage.

-Stress incontinence: Urine leakage can be brought on by quick movements or pressure, such as coughing.

-Overflow incontinence: Your bladder is so full that you have leakage.

-Functional incontinence: Physical disabilities, obstacles, or difficulty communicating your need to urinate prevents you from making it to the toilet on time.

-Transient incontinence: This temporary UI is often the result of a short-term condition, such as a urinary tract infection. It may be a side effect of medication or another medical issue.

-Mixed Incontinence: Incontinence that falls into two or more of the above categories.

The Physical Dangers of Enuresis

Adult incontinence isn't only emotionally taxing, but it can also carry physical dangers. Falls are more likely to happen—the risk of falling increases when they are over 65 by up to 26%. 

Making frequent trips to the bathroom increases the fall risk as the person has to hurry to the toilet. It's especially risky if it's taking place in the middle of the night. The fall risk could mean breaking a bone or becoming injured. 

Waking up multiple times throughout the night to urinate can result in poor sleep, which can affect your alertness, impair your memory, and cause daytime exhaustion. These side effects don't only increase your fall risk in the middle of the night but increase the likelihood of falls happening during the day.

Reducing Nighttime Accidents

Though urinary incontinence is common, there are several steps that you can take to reduce any nighttime accidents. Actions that you can take to reduce accidents: 

-Limit your intake of fluid either just after dinner or a couple of hours before bedtime.

-Reduce your intake of bladder irritants like caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening.

-Elevate your legs when resting during the afternoon, which will stimulate the flow of fluid in the body. Compression stockings also could help.

-Use bladder training exercises to improve your urinary control. Practice holding on to your urine during the daytime.

-Ask your doctor about medication. Your physician might prescribe a diuretic that you take in the afternoon to reduce fluid levels before nighttime or anticholinergic drugs that relax the bladder and make it easier to hold more urine. The hormone desmopressin also reduces the amount of urine you produce at night.

-Purchase a bedwetting alarm. This device wakes you up when you begin to wet yourself, either with a sound or a vibration. Often these alarms can help train your body to wake you up before you wet the bed.

Foods and Drinks that Affect Incontinence 

A factor of nighttime incontinence that is regularly overlooked is diet. Avoiding certain foods and drinks could reduce urinary incontinence. Below is a list of some food and beverages worth avoiding:


-Artificial sweeteners



-Carbonated drinks

-Sparkling water

-Spicy foods

-Acidic fruit

-Sugary or acidic foods

-Large doses of vitamin C

Before Seeing Your Doctor

Before a doctor prescribing treatment, your physician will want you to hone in on what's causing your nocturnal enuresis. Before presenting this information to your doctor, it is beneficial to keep a journal to note when you void during the day and night. A few things that you'll want to jot down:

-Whether the accident occurs during the day or night

-Amount of liquid voided

-When you're drinking a lot of fluids

-What you're drinking

-What your urinary stream is like

-Any recurring UTIs

-The number of wet vs. dry nights

-Any symptoms associated with nocturnal enuresis

It's Ok!

Nighttime urinary incontinence may take some time to get a handle on, but there are products you can use to help protect your bed in the meantime. You can use mattress covers, a plastic cover that you can get at most stores where home goods are sold. There are absorbent briefs and pads for both men and women, which can be found at most drug stores. 

Mattress covers are helpful but won't necessarily reduce the need for laundry, as sheets and pajamas may still become soiled. Absorbent briefs and pads can be effective, but people often complain that the plastic is uncomfortable against their skin. If suffering from urinary incontinence, briefs and pads may require frequent changing, and failing to do so can affect skin integrity. 

Men have the option to use the QuickChange Wrap overnight, which will keep you dry and, in some cases, eliminate the need to get up in the middle of the night at all. By reducing or altogether eliminating the need to get up in the middle of the night, the fall risk declines, and the man can get a better night of sleep. The QuickChange wrap can be worn on it's own or with briefs by anyone suffering from bowel and urinary incontinence. 



National Library of Medicine

Cleveland Clinic

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