As you know, bladder leaks happen, and they even happen when you’re in the middle of an amazing dream. Maybe you’re in the middle of a recurring one where you meet your favorite actor, and he looks especially dreamy when…a bladder leak wakes you up. If something like this has happened to you, you’re probably wondering, “what is this?” If it’s just a one-time thing, it’s probably not a huge cause of concern. Maybe you just had too many glasses of wine before bed. However, if bladder leaks happen repeatedly during sleep, you might be dealing with nocturnal enuresis. Furthermore, you probably want to know what you can do about it! Fortunately, you know how we roll, so we’re going to get into what it is and what you can do to help.
What Is Nocturnal Enuresis?
Did you know about 1 to 2 percent of adults have issues with bladder leaks while they’re asleep!? Rumor has it that this number may actually be a lot higher. Many people are just too embarrassed to speak up. So, if night time leaks are happening to you, know that you’re definitely not alone. And, Nocturnal Enuresis could very well be your culprit!
What Causes Nocturnal Enuresis?
Nocturnal enuresis is usually a result of bladder control issues or structural problems, but the only way you’ll know for sure is by visiting your doctor. You’ll be able to talk in-depth about what you’re experiencing with your PCP and get to the bottom of the surprise nighttime leaks. If you want an idea of what the cause might be before you reach the doctor’s office, consider the following:
Hormones Causing Nightly Bladder Leaks?
Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “wait, a hormone imbalance can cause nighttime leaks?” but hear us out. Your body has a hormone called ADH that is responsible for directing your kidneys to make less urine. If you are suffering from bladder leakage at night, then you might not be making enough of this hormone, or your kidneys aren’t responding well to it. This can sometimes come with menopause but also be entirely unrelated.
Usually, your bladder is supposed to contract when you have to pee, but it contracts excessively or at the absolute wrong times with an overactive bladder (like when you’re asleep). Plus, if you’re already struggling with this during the day, it’ll likely occur while you’re sleeping at night.
No, some bladders aren’t actually smaller than others. However, some bladders may hold less urine, and in turn, act like they’re smaller than they actually are. As a result, they respond by needing to release urine more often.
Have you started any new medications lately? If yes, it could be the cause for new nighttime leaks. Some medicines may irritate the bladder, such as some sleeping pills or antipsychotics like Clozapine and Risperidone.
Some blockage, like kidney or bladder stones, can lead to nocturnal enuresis. The pressure from a stone can make bladder muscles contract leading to spontaneous drips through the night.
We know UTIs are annoying during the day, but they can be a hassle at night too. If you’ve noticed any burning when you pee or blood in your urine, in addition to nightly bladder leaks, it could be due to a urinary tract infection.
As mentioned before, you’ll definitely want to make a trip to your doctor to figure out what’s going on. When you do see your doctor, they’ll likely start off asking you several questions, but they’ll also suggest different tests, such as a:
- Urinalysis: This test evaluates kidney and bladder disorders, plus other issues going on in the body, such as liver problems or diabetes.
- Urine culture: Here, they’ll take the bacteria from your urine sample and grow it in a lab to determine if you have an infection.
- Uroflowmetry: This test requires peeing into a special funnel to measure how much urine you make and how quickly it flows out.
Treating Nocturnal Enuresis
Treating nighttime bladder leakage can be as easy as performing a few behavioral modifications. For example, some popular forms of conditioning treatment include:
- Monitoring fluid intake: This popular method includes slowing down your intake of liquids as the afternoon wears on, to prevent the production of urine toward the evening. It’s also recommended to cut down on known diuretics or bladder irritants, such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Flow Alarms: Setting a random alarm at night to get up and go may be something you’re interested in. I really can’t stress the random part enough. Having a set time may condition your bladder to have to empty at that specific time!
A Backup Plan
If you’re worried about your leaks spilling onto your sheets, consider wearing bladder leak pads or underwear at night. Once you find the right size and absorbency level, you should be able to say adios to changing your sheets for unexpected leaks.
Medication For Nocturnal Enuresis
If you are looking for something a little stronger, like medication, consider Desmopressin or medications for overactive bladder. Desmopressin reduces the amount of urine your kidneys produce. Overactive bladder medications, such as Enablex, Tofranil, Detrol, and others, can help reduce bladder contractions at the wrong time.
Sometimes, you may find yourself having exhausted a variety of treatment options with little to no results. Your doctor may bring up some surgical options if this is the case, such as:
- Bladder augmentation, which makes the bladder larger and raises the amount of urine it can hold.
- Sacral nerve stimulation, which is a widely known treatment for overactive bladders and incontinence. This option consists of implanting a small device in you that sends signals to nerves in your lower back. These nerves control the overall urine flow.
- Detrusor myectomy, which involves removing some of the muscles around your bladder that may be contracting at the wrong times and leading to leakage.
Nip Nocturnal Enuresis In The Bud
A great woman once said, “No one should have to live with nocturnal bladder leakage.” Granted, that was me, but the words are true! Nocturnal enuresis is a condition that may come on due to a variety of illnesses or other factors, but there’s no reason anyone should have to go to bed at night fearing what they may wake up to. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice a good night’s rest because of bladder leakage. Luckily, you have some options to stop you from having nightly bladder leaks. So take the first step today and talk to your doctor so that you can be on track for a good night’s rest.
And, make sure your sheets stay dry while you’re off in Dreamland Paris with Brad Pitt by giving Lily Bird a try. We’re the best backup you can count on!
By Jessica Thomas, MPH