Why is my mother waking at the same time every night?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Katosboss asked...

I am a family caregiver for mother who has COPD, hypertension and anxiety. To help her sleep, she takes clonazapem, remeron and ativan at 10:30. However every night 12:00-12:30, she wakes up, uses the restroom then goes back to sleep. Anyone know why this is happening?

Expert Answers

Steven Y. Park, M.D., is a board-certified otolaryngologist specializing in diagnosing and treating sleep-breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, snoring, and upper airway resistance syndrome. Park is a blogger (doctorstevenpark.com) and author of the book Sleep, Interrupted: A Physician Reveals the #1 Reason Why So Many of Us Are Sick and Tired.

Since she's waking up at he 90 to 120 minute interval, that's one sleep cycle, when you reach deeper levels of sleep (deep non-REM or REM sleep) at the end of this first cycle. Deeper levels of sleep and especially REM sleep is when your throat muscles relax and you're more likely to stop breathing. It's been shown that in most cases, waking up and going to the bathroom is because you stop breathing, and not due to an overactive bladder. However, breathing pauses can cause your heart to make a hormone that make the kidneys produce a bit more urine. Then when you wake up from the breathing pause, you think you have to go to the bathroom, only to see that you have only a little bit of urine. Whether or not she snores, with her medical history, there's a good possibility that she may have obstructive sleep apnea. You may want to have her see a sleep doctor for consultation.

Community Answers

Katosboss answered...

It may help to know what other medications she takes. They are levothyroxine (pre-breakfast), lisinopril (post-breakfast and 9:30pm), advair (post-breakfast and post-dinner), tylenol (10pm). She also doesn't produce her own gastrointestinal enzymes so she's constantly battling constipation and taking laxatives on a continuous basis. I know this is not good for her to do but she really does get severely constipated.

Katosboss answered...

Thank you very much for your response. I have been wondering why the doctors in charge of a patient with COPD would not automatically test her for sleep apnea. I have it myself so am aware of the typical symptoms which she has.