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Slowing the midnight pee-express


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Words can sometimes fail to do justice to the things they represent. For instance, “mango” hardly prepares you for the silky, buttery, sweet sensation that takes place in your mouth when this fruit dances the tango with your taste buds. Equally, “speech” does little to communicate the interminable, mind-mashing horror that can result when a politician or minor functionary has the floor. Words are perhaps, by their nature, inadequate to their assigned task of being descriptors of our lives and this is nowhere better illustrated than in the word “nocturia”, which may sound like a small, furry marsupial but is in fact meant to describe “waking at night to urinate”. Even that latter phrase itself doesn’t communicate how disturbing to body and mind it can be to have to wake several times during a night in order to pee. The good news is, though, that new research has shown that a simple thing like exercise may help reduce the risk of nocturia.

Nocturia is a very common problem for men. It might be caused by an enlarged prostate, overproduction of urine or a low bladder capacity. Whatever the cause though it results in sleep disturbance and that can have a significant impact on health and quality of life. It is estimated that around 50 per cent of men aged 45 or over have nocturia to some degree.

In this study, the researchers used data gathered on more than 28,000 men aged 55 to 74. They defined nocturia as waking two or more times during the night to urinate and severe nocturia as waking three or more times. The men completed questions relating to prostate enlargement, nocturia, physical activity and a range of lifestyle factors. Among the men, 4710 had been recently diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH – non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate).

Among the men recently diagnosed, it was found that men who were physically active one or more hours per week were 13 per cent less likely to have nocturia and 34 per cent less likely to have severe nocturia.

It seems that exercise protects against nocturia probably because it reduces body size, improves sleep generally, reduces sympathetic nervous system activity and reduces overall inflammation in the body.

The researchers think exercise should be part of therapy for nocturia which, if it works, will help men sleep easy.



 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.