Cystitis is an uncomfortable but common urinary tract infection (UTI). It’s caused by bacteria such as E.coli getting into the urethra and up into the bladder, causing irritation and inflammation.
While generally not a cause for concern, it’s an unwelcome infection that usually lasts around 3 days. Because it’s difficult to prevent cystitis assuredly, it’s likely most women will get it at least once in their lives.
Along with the infection comes a host of unpleasant and sometimes painful symptoms that can make sleep difficult and restless. Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging, and the general soreness can make it tricky to get to sleep - even wearing pyjamas can be a nuisance.
Whilst annoying and often sore, there are a few things you can try to manage the condition enough to assist with a decent night’s sleep.
Symptoms of Cystitis
The symptoms of cystitis include burning while urinating, a persistent urge to urinate (even when the bladder is empty), cloudy and smelly urine, and pain in the lower abdomen.
It can also cause you to feel generally unwell in yourself, like with a cold or the flu. Feeling tired and drained is not uncommon as your body fights the infection.
These symptoms can feel doubly frustrating at night when trying to sleep. The constant need to urinate can have sufferers up and down during the night, while the persistent pain in the urethra can also make it difficult to drift off and stay asleep as it is hard to ignore.
It’s important to get a good nights sleep in order to clear the infection quickly and efficiently. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease your symptoms and ensure a more peaceful night.
Easing Cystitis at Night
There are a number of things you can do to relieve your suffering and speed up the healing process.
Avoid fizzy drinks as these may irritate the bladder further. Instead, drink plenty of fresh water to help flush out the infection. Try to consume more liquids earlier in the day so your bladder is less full before bed.
Avoid caffeine & alcohol. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you need to go to the toilet more frequently. Caffeine can also irritate the bladder lining, so try to avoid things that contain caffeine like tea, coffee, chocolate and fizzy drinks. Alcohol is also a bladder irritant so it is advisable not to drink while recovering.
It’s thought that fruits and drinks such as lemons and orange juice may cause urinating to be more painful due to their high acidic content. Whilst not proven, it may be prudent to avoid these too.
Try sleeping in a position that helps to relax the pelvic muscles as this will prevent pain. Lying on your side and pulling your legs up into a foetal position, or spreading your legs apart if you sleep on your back, should be more comfortable.
Try putting a hot water bottle on your abdomen or between your legs for 30 minutes before bed. If you choose to sleep with a hot compress, make sure it is one that cools over time.
Try to avoid sex as intercourse can cause cystitis to flare up. In general, sex should be avoided entirely during a bout of cystitis, but if you do have sex, remember to urinate immediately afterwards to flush out any bacteria.
Wear loose pyjamas that aren’t tight around the genital area. Soft, breathable fabrics like cotton will prevent irritation and let the area breathe without trapping moisture.
Wear a nightie or very loose bottoms as pyjamas with no waistband will stop unwanted pressure on the bladder.
Try light exercises, such as walking or yoga, to loosen your pelvis and release tension within the body.
If you need some immediate relief, a hot shower helps to soothe the urethra. Be sure to avoid scented or perfumed beauty products as these can be irritating.
If you smoke, avoid smoking before bed. Cigarettes contain chemicals that are irritants, which could be upsetting your bladder further.
Take pain relief, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, half an hour before bed. Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, will not only decrease your pain but also reduce inflammation of your bladder.
Still suffering? If your symptoms haven’t gone in 3 days on their own, you may need to see a doctor for some antibiotics such as trimethoprim or nitrofurantoin in order to shift the infection completely.