27th March 2017 – Older people who need to get up in the night to pee should try to curb their salt intake, new research by Japanese scientists suggests.
The problem, called nocturia, is most common in people aged over 60s. Those night-time trips to the bathroom mean disturbed sleep and can lead to tiredness, feeling stressed and irritability.
There are several causes of nocturia. For instance, our bladders lose elasticity as we age. Also, a hormone that slows down kidney function at night is produced in smaller quantities later in life.
Now, a team from Nagasaki University School of Medicine says that eating too much salt leads to us drinking more, boosting the chances of needing to get up in the night to pee.
The findings are based on a study of 321 Japanese men and women who had a high salt intake and problems getting a good night's sleep.
A high salt intake was defined as 8g or more each day for men and 7g for women.
After the participants were given help to reduce their salt intake, they were monitored for the next 12 weeks and underwent urine tests to measure sodium levels, a marker of the amount of salt in their body.
A total of 223 members of the group were able to reduce their salt intake. This led to a drop in the average number of times they needed to pee during the night from 2.3 times to 1.4 times.
In contrast, the other 98 participants increased their average salt intake. This led to an increase in average night-time visits to the bathroom from 2.3 times to 2.7 times.
Daytime urination was also reduced among those who cut down on salt, say the researchers, who also found that quality of life improved for those who reduced salt intake and they slept better as a result.
The findings have been presented at The 32nd European Association of Urology conference in London.
Results from the study should be treated with caution as they have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The latest official UK figures show that in 2014 adults were eating an average of 8g of salt each day – a decrease of 0.5 g since 2011.
According to Public Health England, a reduction in average daily salt intake from 8g to 6g could prevent over 8,000 premature deaths each year and save the NHS more than £570 million annually.
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