When you suffer from incontinence, it can become difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you’re spending your nights tossing and turning, worried about waking up to an accident. There are many questions that may be running through your mind, from the anxiety of having to wash and clean your sheets, to wondering if you’re going to urinate near your partner.
Approximately 26 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence and while it’s reported that 1-2% of those Americans suffer from nighttime incontinence, experts say the number is much higher. Many instances of nighttime incontinence go under-reported because many feel embarrassed.
If you’re looking for ways to manage nighttime incontinence, you’re not alone. Here are some things you can do at home to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Wear an Absorbent Adult Diaper or Overnight Pad
Many people hear the term adult diaper and become worried about wearing a bulky, uncomfortable pad to bed. However, there are a variety of brands and styles of adult diapers out there that are designed to maximize comfort with soft, breathable materials. Many of these adult incontinence products don’t even look like diapers and can be worn easily under your pajamas or regular clothing. Choose a maximum absorbency product and wear it overnight to catch leaks before they reach your clothing or bedsheets.
Reduce Caffeine Intake Too Close to Bedtime
Avoid caffeinated beverages before bed. Not only can caffeine interrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to fall asleep in the first place, but it’s also linked to a higher risk of bladder leakage. Caffeine is a diuretic that increases urine output, meaning that it increases bladder activity and causes you to urinate more often. If you must have a nightly tea or coffee, switch to decaf.
Limit Fluid Intake After 6 pm
On that note, try to limit your intake of all fluids starting at 5pm or 6pm. If you need to hydrate, try to stick to water and drink in small sips instead of bigger gulps. Stay away from citrus juices, alcohol, cranberry juice (which is normally associated with bladder health, but can be an irritant for people with overactive bladders), diet sodas with artificial sweeteners or caffeine, and other acidic drinks. All of these drinks can irritate your bladder and increase your risk for an accident.
Do a Double-Void Before Getting Into Bed
Essentially, doing a double-void means emptying your bladder twice before you climb in between the sheets for the night. When getting ready for bed, urinate before you go through your nightly routine such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, or removing your makeup. Once you’re done, urinate again right before you get in bed. Even if you don’t feel the urge, try to squeeze something out to lower your risk for the urge to creep up overnight.
Practice Your Kegels
An important way to reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Regular kegel exercises are an excellent way to strengthen your pelvis to help gain more control over your bladder leaks. To find the right muscles, simply stop urinating mid-stream. The contraction you make to do this is the same contraction you’ll make to perform a kegel exercise. Hold it for five seconds at a time, then release. Repeat this up to 10 times,
three times a day. It won’t instantly eliminate overnight accidents, but it will help you build up muscle strength to control those accidents over time.
Invest in a Waterproof Cover
If the anxiety of wetting your sheets and having to do extra laundry is causing you anxiety, invest in a waterproof cover for your bed. This can help reduce the amount of time you need to spend cleaning your sheets and can give you some peace of mind to help you get through the night.