Okay, everybody, it's TMI time. For as long as I can remember, I've gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. If it's only once, I consider it a good night. Some nights, it can be three, four times. Some nights, I get up several times before I fall asleep as a "precaution," but then still have to get up once or twice and interrupt my sleep. In fact, where a bathroom is in an apartment is a dealbreaker for me. Once, I lived in an apartment that had a bathroom down a flight of stairs. I agonized over whether to live there, and finally decided to give it a try. I thought maybe my bladder would adjust. It didn't. Little did I realize that I have something called "nocturnia," which affects one third of the population.
People with nocturnia get up once or more during the night to go to the bathroom. I have to confess I thought what I dealt with most people did -- despite living with a man who never got up in the middle of the night. I thought he was just lucky -- or an incredibly deep sleeper.
Now there's news that this condition might not just affect my sleep -- but my work productivity. According to a study, people with nocturnia are 24% less productive at work than those without. Which I find kind of offensive, frankly, but I'm not going to lie and say that there aren't mornings when I'm incredibly tired. Usually this isn't from the getting up, but the fact that I also find it difficult to get back to sleep after I'm up.
I've mentioned up my pee-addled nights to various doctors -- all of them just looked at me blankly. A couple even laughed. One told me I just needed to "train" my bladder. (My bladder did not respond to treats and a clicker.)
For awhile, I stopped drinking anything after 6 p.m, but it made no difference. Kegel exercises did nothing. I don't have a UTI. I don't drink coffee or tea. There are times I've had nothing to drink and STILL gone to the bathroom three or four times! I may have overactive bladder syndrome, but when I mention my problem to doctors they look bewildered and never offer me any medications (I can't believe they get paid so much).
I have to make sure I don't drink before I go on long car trips, before I get on the subway, or even before I'm leaving a restaurant and fear I may not get home in the next 15-20 minutes. There are days when I walk into a store and turn around and walk back out because I know in half an hour I'll have to pee and I won't have time to shop. I dread plays with no intermissions. I'm not exactly proud that "Can I use your bathroom?" is the first thing I say to people when I go their house. Even if I've just met them.
Of course, New York, which has no public toilets, makes this condition a nightmare. Thank god for Starbucks.
Researching ways to help nocturnia brought up nothing I hadn't already tried, but apparently antidiuretics can help. I'm reluctant to be on medication that might have other side effects, but maybe I'll have to cave in and get something, especially since this condition worsens as you get older. Diapers, here I come!
Do you have this condition? If you've got any advice, let me know!
Image via Tracy Hunter/Flickr