We can think of very few things as frustrating as nightly trips to the bathroom because your bladder is threatening to blow in volcanic proportions. It’s maddening, and meltdown-inducing, and impossible to avoid. Or is it?
Brand new research from Nagasaki University in Japan is suggesting a simple way to reduce your midnight pee treks. And, no, it’s not to severely cut your water intake. It’s actually to slash how much salt is in your diet.
In the 12-week study, published in the European Association of Urology, researchers counseled over 300 men and women who had a supremely high daily salt intake and problems sleeping on how to adjust their lifestyle (i.e. eat less sodium). Now when we say they were eating a ton of salt, we mean it. Consumption was over 8g/day for men and over 7g/day for women. Just to put that into perspective, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends people consume less than 2,300mg or 2.3g of sodium per day as part of a healthy diet.
More than 200 subjects were able to drop down from an average of 10.7g of sodium/day to 8g/day, which reduced their nighttime urge to urinate from 2.3 to 1.4 times a night. To truly test whether salt was messing with urination patterns, the rest of the participants increased their salt consumption from 9.6g a day to 11g a day. Unfortunately, they saw a heightened need to pee during the night, from 2.3 to 2.7 times, and most likely heightened stress, irritability, and tiredness, as these are all symptoms of the condition (nocturia).
So, why the link between high-salt intake and a greater need to pee in the middle of the night? Scientists believe all that sodium causes fluid retention, called edema.
“This work holds out the possibility that a simply [sic] dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people,” lead study author Matuso Tomohiro, Ph.D., said in a press release. “This is the first study to measure how salt intake affects the frequency of going to the bathroom, so we need to confirm the work with larger studies.”
Aside from cutting back salt, it’s not a bad idea to slow down your water consumption before bed to reduce the amount of times you have to get up during the night. Don’t deprive yourself of water. Just taper off how much you’re sipping the closer it gets to your bedtime.