Watching Too Much TV Raises Your Risk of This Bathroom Issue, Says New Study

Updated: Jun. 12, 2024

Urology doctors have found that binge-watching calls for a break for the sake of keeping one body part happy.

If you often wake up during the night with the need to urinate, a surprising connection that might be the culprit. A January 2024 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurourology & Urodynamics has revealed a notable link between excessive TV viewing and nocturia, a condition that affects 50 million people in the United States.

Nocturia, characterized by the need to pee frequently at night, not only disrupts sleep but also has far-reaching consequences on overall health and well-being. While 10 million individuals have been officially diagnosed with nocturia, only 1.5 million receive specific treatment for it, leaving a significant portion of the population to deal with the burden of interrupted sleep and its associated risks.

The study authors emphasize the gravity of the situation, stating, “Nocturia not only elevates the likelihood of diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, and mortality but also contributes to a significant economic burden on society.” This positions nocturia as a critical public health concern that demands immediate intervention, with this new research highlighting a potentially modifiable risk factor: Watching too much TV.

The TV-nocturia connection

The study, which analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2011 and 2016, included 13,294 U.S. individuals aged 20 and older. Among the participants, 4,236 (31.86%) reported experiencing nocturia, while 9,058 (68.14%) did not. The findings of the study were striking. Participants who spent five or more hours a day watching TV and videos had a 48% higher risk of experiencing nocturia compared to those who watched less than an hour daily.

So, what’s the connection between binge-watching your favorite shows and those nightly bathroom visits? While the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood, researchers suggest that extended periods of TV viewing may increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, a known risk factor for nocturia. Additionally, TV watching often goes hand in hand with increased beverage consumption, leading to a higher fluid intake. Prolonged sitting can also contribute to leg edema (fluid buildup in the legs), another factor that may exacerbate nocturia. Additionally, too much screen time can impact sleep quality, which might worsen symptoms of nocturia.

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What can you do to reduce your risk of nocturia?

The study authors encourage individuals to be mindful of their screen time and urge healthcare professionals to offer behavioral intervention recommendations to help manage screen time appropriately.

If you find yourself struggling with nocturia, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. While cutting back on your TV time may be a good start, various treatment options are available to help you regain control over your nighttime routine and improve your overall quality of life.

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