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Nocturia: Frequent Night Urination Causes & Treatment

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Bladder leakage at night can happen whether or not you feel the urge to go, so you may not always know beforehand that you have to use the bathroom. This means you may even wake up to wet sheets. Use this guide to better understand Nocturia, what causes those frequent urges to use the restroom at night, and how to prevent or treat the symptoms of nocturia.

What is Nocturia?

Nocturia, or nocturnal polyuria, is a condition that causes sleep disruption resulting from frequent urination at night.

Not getting a good night’s sleep can really throw you off for the whole day. Nothing feels quite right. That’s why waking up with a full bladder multiple times per night can be more than just a momentary annoyance—those extra trips to the bathroom can have a big effect. Sure, getting up to go in the middle of the night is fairly common, but if it happens two or more times per night, it may be a sign that something isn’t quite right.

Nocturia Causes: Why Do I Pee So Much at Night?

So, what causes you to go to the bathroom at night to urinate so frequently? There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause nocturia, which can include a urinary tract infection (UTI), a form of overflow incontinence, pregnancy, aging in older adults, diuretic fluid intake or drinking too close to bedtime.
More plainly, frequently urinating at night can also be a symptom of having an overactive bladder.

An overactive bladder is another common cause of nocturia, which is the result of bladder muscles that spasm and contract involuntarily, even when your bladder isn’t full. This can send you running to the bathroom – or, as can be the case with nighttime incontinence, wetting the bed. An overactive bladder is often the result of nerve damage caused by previous pelvic surgery, or a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. In some cases, a particularly difficult birthing process can cause damage to the surrounding muscles, tissues and nerves surrounding the bladder, leaving you with a sensitive bladder.

Our bodies produce less urine while we’re sleeping. However, this means that the urine we do produce is more concentrated and acidic, which can aggravate a sensitive bladder, causing it to spasm and wake you up at night having to pee.

Other times, nocturia is a result of too much urine production. This is usually due to an underlying medical problem that should be ruled out with your doctor, such as:

  • Bladder infection
  • Kidney infection
  • Bladder prolapse
  • Edema, or swelling of the lower legs
  • Sleep disorders creating sleep disruption (i.e. sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia)
  • Diabetes
  • Liver failure
  • Neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s

Why You May Have Bladder Leaks at Night

Often times, bladder leakage at night is a form of overflow incontinence. If you experience overflow incontinence, the involuntary release of urine from an overly full bladder, you likely experience urine leaks – a lot! Even at night. You naturally have to use the bathroom less while you’re sleeping than when you’re awake. This is because your body produces a hormone called ADH – anti diuretic hormone – that signals to your kidneys to produce less urine. However, some people don’t produce the appropriate amount of ADH at night, leading to too much urine production.

Alternatively, even if your body produces enough ADH, your kidneys may not respond to the hormone. This means that your body will still produce too much urine, leading to maximum bladder capacity and leakage at night.

Often times, bedwetting in adults is genetic. If one of your parents wets the bed, you have a 40 percent chance of wetting the bed at some point in your adult life as well.

Nocturia Treatment: How Can I Stop Excessive Urination at Night?

Use these tips and remedies to treat nocturia and frequent urination at night.

  • No drinks before bedtime
    Avoid drinking any beverages, including water, after a certain time every night. Some people find that not drinking any liquids three to four hours before bedtime is most effective for preventing nocturia, thus limiting nighttime urination. But if you do this, don’t limit your daily hydration – it’s critical to get enough water throughout the day! Play around with your liquid cutoff time to see what works best for you. Make slight changes to your nighttime fluid intake and you may be well on your way to saying goodbye to nocturia.

  • Stick to bladder-friendly liquids
    Certain liquids are known to stimulate an overactive bladder, causing it to spasm and jolt you out of your sweet dreams with the sudden urge to go. Caffeine is a known diuretic and stimulant, which means it increases bladder activity. This is not something you want if you already have an overactive bladder, especially if you’re prone to frequent night urination. While caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are the biggest and most well-known culprits here, did you know that fizzy drinks like seltzer water or carbonated soft drinks are also bladder irritants? The “fizz” in carbonated beverages can irritate your bladder. It’s best to steer clear and limit diuretic and stimulant fluid intake.

  • Double up before bedtime
    Empty your bladder twice before you go to bed. It may be helpful to go to the bathroom once before brushing your teeth, and then once more right after so any urine that wasn’t voided the first time around comes out on the second try. This is especially important if you have an overactive bladder at night.

  • Consider pharmaceuticals
    Some medications can help regulate anti diuretic hormone (ADH) levels in your body. ADH is responsible for signaling the kidneys to produce a limited amount of urine during the night. Medications can also relax your bladder muscles, thereby reducing their spasming. Medication may also be necessary to treat a urinary tract infection if this is the cause of your nighttime accidents. Talk to your doctor to see if this is an appropriate plan of action to treat your nocturia symptoms and lifestyle.

  • Wear nighttime incontinence protection, like Always Discreet
    Until you have your nocturia and nighttime urination prevention tactics down pat, try wearing products designed for bladder leaks at night such as Always Discreet liners, pads and underwear. These products will help protect against the symptoms of nocturia and bladder leakages. They absorb liquids and odors within seconds to help you stay comfortable for a good night’s sleep. Plus, they come in different sizes and absorbencies to meet a wide range of protection needs.

Talk to Your Doctor About Nocturia

As with any medical condition and health concerns, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing and discuss treatment options. The doctor may ask for an overview of your diet and fluid intake, how often you wake up per night to urinate, as well as if you have any underlying health conditions.

It can be difficult to broach the subject with others, but don't be embarrassed. It's more prevalent than you think. Some common questions to get the conversation started with your doctor include:

How do you diagnose nocturia (nocturnal polyuria)?
What causes nocturia or frequent urination at night?
Why do I wake up to pee at night?
How can I better manage my fluid intake?
How many times is normal to urinate at night?
What can I do to prevent bedwetting?
Can you stop nocturia or frequent urination at night?
Are there any medications or treatment options to help control my bladder?

The sooner you know what the source of nocturia and your frequent bathroom visits, the faster you can get treatment, learn how to stop bedwetting, and be on your way to a dry, comfortable and restful night’s sleep. Hello, better quality of life!