Getting up during the night to use the bathroom becomes more common as people get older. But researchers in Japan have found a way to dry up the nightly urge to pee (and so deliver a better night’s sleep): Cut your salt intake.
Research presented at the 32nd European Association of Urology in March summarized the work of Japanese scientists who looked at 321 men and women (mean age 64.3 years) who had a high salt intake and trouble sleeping. With guidance over a 12-week period, 223 were able to consume less salt (reducing their intake from roughly 2 teaspoons [10.7 g] per day to 1½ teaspoons [8 g]) and their average nighttime urination frequency dropped from 2.3 times per night to 1.4 times.
With less waking up to go to the bathroom, study participants reported a marked improvement in their quality of life.
Not getting enough sleep is a public-health issue because it can lead to car crashes and occupational errors, as well as difficulty performing everyday tasks, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Nighttime urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older,” says Matsuo Tomohiro, MD, of Nagasaki University and lead researcher on the study. “This work holds out the possibility that a simple dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people.”