A urinary tract infection, or UTI, refers to any infection that happens within the urinary system and most often requires treatment with antibiotics. It can cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen, painful urination, and can even result in blood appearing in urine. It is important to have a UTI diagnosed so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.
For many, it’s hard to sleep with UTI discomfort, which is frustrating and can make everything so much worse. That’s where we can help.
Here, we’ll show you exactly how to sleep with UTI discomfort, as well as share with you techniques to treat and prevent UTI discomfort in the future.
But First: What are the Symptoms?
An infection that occurs anywhere in the urinary tract is considered a UTI. This can occur in the kidneys, the bladder, or the urethra.
Each can present with similar symptoms, but there are symptoms that differ for each and can point to which type of infection is present.
A kidney infection will usually have back pain or pain in the side of the body, a fever including chills, and sometimes shaking, along with nausea and vomiting.
Bladder infections often present with pressure in the pelvic area, pain during urination and frequent urination, pain and discomfort in the abdomen, and can cause blood in the urine.
An infection in the urethra is most often seen with a burning feeling during urination and discharge.
These infections occur when bacteria becomes present in the urinary tract, and this leads to an immune response that results in inflammation. This in turn creates pain and discomfort, and can cause a fever and frequent urination as the body tries to flush the bacteria out of your body. It also causes a stinging feeling and urine may appear to be cloudy or have a strong smell.
UTIs are more common in women than men, and over half of all women will have at least one in their life. For some people this can become a recurring problem, and they may battle UTIs over several years. That makes it necessary to treat UTIs quickly and avoid creating antibiotic resistance.
It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when suffering from a UTI. But below we show you eight steps that will help you sleep with UTI discomfort.
Sleeping with a UTI: The Eight Steps You Must Take
When preparing to sleep with a UTI it is helpful to reduce the discomfort and pain. By doing so you’ll be-able to achieve a better sleep.
That’s important as your body heals most during sleep, so it is extremely important to find ways to sleep well while you are managing the discomfort of a UTI.
1. Use a Hot Water Bottle
A hot water bottle placed on your abdomen can reduce cramping and pain while falling asleep, as well as reduce the inflammation that causes pain.
While a heating pad may help to reduce pain as well, it is not recommended to sleep with a plugged in heating pad because that can be unsafe. However a hot water bottle is well suited and safe for use overnight.
If a hot water bottle is unavailable any plastic bottle from water, pop, or juice, can be filled with hot water (not boiling water) and covered with a light towel or blanket to keep the skin safe from a potential burn.
2. Have a Sitz Bath
A sitz bath – which is a warm bath with baking soda – can ease the pain of a UTI before bed. Warm water from the bath will offer the same comfort as a hot water bottle, but on a larger scale, and can reduce cramping and abdominal pain.
Adding a tablespoon of baking soda to the bathwater will also help reduce discomfort, and will offer pain relief while reducing bacteria and any odor that the UTI may cause.
3. Avoid Alcohol and High Acidic Foods
To ensure you have the best sleep possible, avoid things that will irritate the infection or encourage further growth of bacteria.
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, as well as carbonated drinks, will provide the best opportunity for your body to fight the infection as the ingredients in such beverages can increase pain from a UTI.
Chocolate and foods that are high in acidity are also likely to increase pain during urination, and may even decrease the frequency of urination which is needed to flush bacteria from your body. Spicy foods and those that contain tomatoes can also irritate a UTI and increase discomfort.
4. Drink More Water
Drinking more water during the day will help reduce discomfort as it can help flush out the infection. Just make sure you slow down your intake between the hours of dinner and bed so that you don’t wake up frequently during the night to go to the toilet. That will, of course, disrupt sleep.
5. Use Medication if Needed
If muscle spasms are preventing sleep, there are medications that can reduce spasms and lower discomfort caused by the infection. An over the counter pain reliever or fever reducer can be used as needed, as that will reduce the pain and allow you to get a good night’s sleep.
There are also medications that can reduce the frequency of urination which will allow you to sleep through the night, without causing further irritation to the infection.
6. Use The Best Sleeping Position and Environment
When preparing for sleep make sure you create a comfortable and welcoming sleeping environment.
This includes using a comfortable pillow and blanket that creates the appropriate temperature for sleeping. Ideally, it is best to sleep at a lower temperature than what you enjoyed throughout the day. That will help the body ease into sleep.
If back pain is present, it is necessary to find a sleeping position that will support your back and keep the spine straight, as doing so will reduce discomfort. You can use pillows or cushions to prop up your body in the appropriate position.
For example, if sleeping on your back add a pillow beneath your knees to create a fold in your abdomen. That will help reduce any cramps. This method may also relieve lower back pain by changing the positioning of the muscles and reducing the pressure on them.
7. Sleep Close to a Bathroom if Possible
Sleeping close to a bathroom, and using a night light for your bathroom trips, can help reduce lost sleep due to bathroom trips. If you need to urinate during the night then avoiding turning on the overhead lights as they will make it harder to fall back asleep. Use a night light instead.
8. Wear Comfortable Loose Sleepwear
When selecting sleepwear choose items that will not press on your abdomen, as this can increase pain from cramping, and will press down on the inflamed areas which will in turn also cause more pain.
Comfortable, loose clothing will allow you to have a full night sleep and will provide the most comfort.
Treatment For UTI Discomfort
It is necessary for any UTI to be treated with oral antibiotics in order to kill the bacteria and clear the infection from your body. Antibiotics should be taken as directed for the entirety of the prescription in order to ensure the infection is completely cleared and will not recur.
Stopping antibiotics before you are meant to, even if the symptoms are gone, can lead to the infection coming back, and may even help it to adapt and become resistant to antibiotics.
While awaiting your doctor’s appointment there are some steps that you can take to improve the situation and discomfort.
Increase water intake to encourage urination which will help flush out bacteria that is present. This will support your immune system and help control the growth of bacteria. Increased fluids will also improve your ability to fully empty your bladder during urination, which is necessary for fighting the infection.
How to Sleep With UTI Discomfort: Pain Relief and What to Avoid
As mentioned before, a heating pad or hot water bottle applied to your abdomen can provide relief from cramps, and may reduce the burning feeling that occurs during urination. Heat reduces inflammation as well as relaxes the muscles, which in turn should lower pain and discomfort.
Avoiding food and drinks that will increase inflammation or cause discomfort is necessary. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages should be minimized or avoided completely, as well as foods that have large amounts of added sugar.
Spicy foods can also irritate the urinary tract and cause discomfort to increase, as well as reduce blood flow to the bladder. That would then limit the ability of your immune system to fight the infection, and will restrict the flow of nutrients to the area.
Vitamin C should be avoided or limited in the presence of UTI symptoms as the acidity increase from consuming Vitamin C can cause pain to increase. However, Vitamin C can be productive in preventing a UTI from occurring in the first place. So once the UTI has cleared completely, it’s well worth ensuring you have enough Vitamin C in your diet.
How to Sleep With UTI Discomfort: Prevention
Even for people who are prone to UTIs there are some ways you can prevent frequent occurrences.
One of the first things to do is increase water intake and ensure your body is always well hydrated. That will help urination to occur at least every few hours, which in turn will help flush out bacteria before it can multiply and cause an infection to occur. Clear fluids other than water are also beneficial like coconut water, as well as foods that are high in water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, and other melons.
Cranberry juice has been shown to help prevent UTIs by increasing the acidity of urine. That then prevents bacteria from taking hold and being able to multiply. As added sugars can make the situation worse, unsweetened cranberry juice is the best choice. While drinking cranberry juice may not prevent all infections, it won’t make them worse, and can offer one more way to help prevent them.
Vitamin C works on the same principal, both adding nutrients and a vitamin that is known to help boost the immune system. Supplementing will keep your body healthy but also cause your urine to be more acidic and prevent bacteria from settling and being able to multiply.
While antibiotics are necessary for many illnesses, they should be limited to when they are necessary, and used according to the directions provided. Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can create a resistance to them and stop them from working as needed. Adding probiotics to your diet can help to replace the good bacteria that is also killed by antibiotics, and can help to prevent illness from occurring in the future.
How to Sleep With UTI Discomfort: Our Final Thoughts
A urinary tract infection can happen to anyone at any age, though it is more likely to affect women than men.
With over half of all women having at least one UTI in their life, it is a very common occurrence and there are many ways to reduce the discomfort and still have a full night’s sleep.
While waiting treatment, or while waiting for antibiotics to begin working, over the counter pain pills may reduce cramping and discomfort.
A hot water bottle can make sleeping with a UTI more comfortable and help reduce inflammation. Whilst ensuring that your bladder is emptied before bed can prevent frequent waking to urinate in the night, which will help sleep. It is however, important to consume more water and fluids throughout the day and to urinate whenever necessary. This will help clear the bacteria from your body and speed up your return to good health.
Antibiotics are necessary for curing a UTI and must be taken according to instructions provided. Misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which makes infections harder to clear up in the future.
Prevention is still the most effective way to reduce UTIs and there’s several things you can do to prevent these infections from happening in the future. Drinking water and other fluids, taking vitamin C and drinking cranberry juice can all help prevent a UTI.