If you experience frequent urination, you might think the problem is benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or, more simply, an enlarged prostate. This common condition has been the subject of numerous advertising campaigns, and since prostate cancer screenings are done regularly, we’re already trained to think about that organ.

But what if you’re waking up frequently to urinate at night, called nocturia? That could be BPH, but it’s actually more likely to be sleep apnea. That’s according to a new study.

Adult man in pajamas and slippers walks to a bathroom at the night. Sleep Apnea can cause frequent urination at night.

Why Does Sleep Apnea Make Me Urinate at Night?

Sleep apnea disrupts many of your body’s systems, including many key metabolic processes. One of these is the way your body produces and stores urine at night.

When we sleep, our body tries to put many of its normal functions on hold. One of these is the system of urine production and elimination. To do this, the body produces a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), that tells your kidneys to produce less urine at a higher concentration.

But when the brain senses the oxygen shortages caused by sleep apnea, it tells the heart to beat harder and faster. This may not be easy because the airway is closed. With the closed airway, there’s a relative vacuum in the lungs as your body struggles to breathe. This creates pressure that the heart mistakes for an excess of fluid, so it releases a hormone called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP). ANP tells your body that it needs to get rid of fluid, so the kidneys start producing more urine that’s less concentrated. You build up urine more quickly.

Then, because sleep apnea can cause you to awaken slightly, your body becomes aware of the excess of urine, and you have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Sleep apnea is so likely to cause nighttime urination that it is considered an independent risk factor. In fact, in a recent study, the level of sleep apnea was a stronger predictor of nocturia than prostate enlargement.

Can Sleep Apnea Treatment Reduce Nocturia?

There is good news here. If you don’t have other symptoms of BPH, you can address your nighttime urination with sleep apnea treatment. Treating sleep apnea has been shown to be effective at reducing nocturia. About two-thirds of people reported a reduction in nocturia when they started sleep apnea treatment. In fact, about 40% of people who used to get up twice a night to urinate slept through the night once they’d received sleep apnea treatment.

Sleep Through the Night

If you’re tired of dealing with waking up to urinate at night, we can help. Sleep apnea is a likely cause of nighttime urination, and sleep apnea treatment can reduce or eliminate your need to wake up at night for urination.

If you have other sleep apnea symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness, snoring, loss of energy or interest, or a tendency to doze off in the afternoon, you should get tested for the condition. We can help you get a sleep test. If you have sleep apnea, we offer oral appliance therapy, an effective, comfortable sleep apnea treatment.

To learn more about the symptoms of sleep apnea, please call (201) 343-4044 for an appointment with River Edge sleep dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian at the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.