Sleep Apnea, Not Enlarged Prostate, May Be Causing Men to Wake Up in the Night

A significant number of patients with benign prostate enlargement may have obstructive sleep apnea.

A significant number of patients with benign prostate enlargement (BPE) may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which may be the reason for their night awakenings and urination, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.

This study compared men between the ages of 55 and 75 who were randomly sampled from primary care clinics, diagnosed with BPE and reported nocturia at least once nightly. The comparison control group had no BPE and one or no nocturia episodes per night.

According to the new study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, the BGU researchers found that more than half (57.8%) of patients with enlarged prostates may in fact have the sleep disorder, and that the awakenings that patients ascribed to their need to urinate at night may be actually caused by their sleep disorders.

Waking during the night to void is a common BPE symptom. OSA is a sleep disorder characterized by snoring, witnessed apneas, awakenings and day sleepiness.

“If nocturia severity in BPE patients is actually a preexisting sleep disorder, this can now be treated and help improve patients’ quality of life,” Howard Tandeter, a researcher in BGU’s Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, said in a statement. He recommends that physicians following patients with BPE who report frequent awakenings from sleep to urinate should suspect OSA as a possible cause and treat accordingly.

“Even among those patients with well-defined medical reasons for nocturia, sleep disorders may still be found as the source of most awakenings from sleep. Therefore, the diagnosis of a sleep disorder should be seriously considered whenever a patient reports frequent awakenings from sleep to urinate since the problem is treatable,” Tandeter said.