Life's Great Mysteries - Why do we have to go to the bathroom during the night more often as we get older?
I’ve been going to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness since 1986 (and going there with Trish since 1992). Part of the appeal is the hardships involved with a true wilderness experience: portaging your canoe and gear from one lake to the next, cooking meals with minimal equipment, trying to stay dry when the rains come, and keeping the insects from sucking all the blood from your body, to name a few. Dealing with these hardships properly results in an ego boost. They make me feel like I’m Jeremiah Johnson, or at least a version of Jeremiah Johnson who enjoys comfy air mattresses and high-tech footwear.
There is, however, one hardship in the Boundary Waters I do not appreciate, and that hardship is becoming more bothersome as I get older. I’m talking, of course, about the need to crawl out of the tent in the middle of the night to urinate. There, I said it. To pee, to wizz, to take a leak, to micturate. It’s just not fun. There’s all that moaning and groaning to unzip the sleeping bag, trying to put on a pair of wet shoes, unzipping the tent and then zipping it back up to keep the mosquitoes out of the tent, stumbling over rocks and tent cords to move far enough away from the tent, finding a spot where the ground slopes away from your feet so the urine does not flow back onto your shoes (or bare feet), getting the job done while slapping mosquitoes, stumbling back to the tent, unzipping then rezipping the tent door, crawling back into the sleeping bag, turning on a flashlight and methodically killing the mosquitoes that got in during the process, then trying to go back to sleep.
There was a time when I could go all night without doing that. Those days are long gone. Now I have to go through it at least two times per night, sometimes more. The Great Mystery is, why?
My first thought was, this happens to those of us who were troublemakers in our younger days. But I know people who I’m quite sure are 'practically perfect in every way' who still have to pee at night as much as I do. As it turns out, it is not unusual at all. As we age, our bodies produce less of a hormone that helps concentrate urine so that we can hold it until the morning. Also, as we get older, we are likely to have other health issues that make it harder to hold it until morning, such as an enlarged prostate gland (in men) and lowered estrogen (in women), which causes changes in the urinary tract. There are plenty of other things that can cause it too. Bummer. Unfair. But, Trish and I are still going to the Boundary Waters.
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