Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Louise Carter
Frequent urination at night is a common complaint in middle age and beyond for men and women alike. Needing to use the toilet regularly in the evening is known as nocturia.
Nocturia can be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and sugary foods within 6 hours of bedtime and avoiding sudden temperature changes.
Also, wear compression socks to bed and sleep with your legs elevated. If you take medications with diuretic properties, ask a doctor if you can take them earlier in the day.
Take steps to control nocturia and minimize the need to urinate during the night. If you keep getting up to pee, you’ll have less energy in the morning because you’re experiencing broken sleep.
I Keep Needing to Pee During the Night
If you regularly need to urinate at night, it’ll impact your sleep quality. Each time you get up to visit the bathroom, you’ll reset your sleep pattern, and low-quality sleep will take its toll.
To be considered a case of nocturia, you’ll urinate more at night than during the day. This separates nocturia from an overactive bladder, which is a 24-hour consideration.
Nocturia sometimes goes hand-in-hand with polyuria (excessive urination).
Is it Normal To Pee At Night?
Many older people joke about their inability to get through the night without urinating at least once. As we age, our bodies produce less vasopressin, the hormone in the renal system that retains fluid.
As our bodies create less vasopressin, we must release wastewater as urine more often.
As we age, muscles also weaken, including those in the bladder. As a consequence, more trips to the bathroom are necessary.
Even so, while it’s normal to urinate overnight, don’t let this become the new norm. You can regain control of your bladder from nocturia and benefit from uninterrupted sleep.
Why Do I Keep Waking Up to Go to the Toilet?
It’s good that you’re waking up in time to urinate because bladder weakness and nocturia can lead to incontinence. The Canadian Urological Association Journal refers to this as nocturnal enuresis.
Assuming you wake up and use the toilet in good time, you must ask yourself: Are you waking up because you need to urinate, or do you need to urinate because you have woken up?
If you have insomnia, waking up several times at night, it stands to reason that you’ll need to urinate when you awaken. Focus on improving sleep patterns so you urinate less.
If an overactive bladder awakens you, this could have a medical explanation.
Should You Go To The Toilet Before Bed?
Always use the bathroom before bed, even if you don’t need to. If you void your bladder, you’re likelier to make it through the night without peeing.
Part of this is psychology because the body and mind expect you to need to eliminate.
If you’ve been to the bathroom, your mind will relax and send messages to the bladder to hold on. If not, the need to urinate is likelier to be considered urgent, so you’ll wake up during sleep.
How Many Times Should You Go to the Toilet at Night?
A healthy adult with a functioning bladder that doesn’t have nocturia will comfortably sleep for 6-8 hours without the need to pee. Needing to urinate once is considered perfectly normal.
How Do I Stop Going to the Toilet at Night?
Most evenings will become a gauntlet of frustration if you have nocturia.
Nobody likes waking in the night, and if it’s happening multiple times, you’ll likely ask yourself a simple question – “How do I stop peeing so much at night?”
Dealing with nocturia is a gradual process. Initially, you can make lifestyle adjustments to reduce your need to urinate at night. If that’s ineffective, arrange a consultation with a medical doctor.
Best Sleeping Position for an Overactive Bladder
Adjusting your sleeping posture can reduce the need to urinate at night. Avoid positions that exert pressure on the bladder, like sleeping on your stomach.
Instead, sleep on your side or lay on your back. Elevate your legs to slow down fluid accumulation in the bladder. You don’t need special equipment; a firm pillow will suffice.
Get some compression socks because they’ll also reduce fluid accumulation.
Lifestyle Changes for Nocturia
You may be surprised by what impacts the bladder overnight. For example, drinking fluid before bed can be ingrained into your routine.
Here are some simple lifestyle modifications that anyone can make:
Healthy Sleep Patterns
Divide your sleep pattern into 2 shorter periods if you can’t make it through 8 hours straight.
Consider taking a 4-hour nap in the afternoon and sleeping another 4 hours at night. This revised sleep cycle will give you around 8 hours of sleep with fewer restroom interruptions.
The bladder muscles weaken with age, so we react as soon as the need to urinate is triggered.
The brain sends increasingly urgent, panicked messages when we need to pee. If you race to the bathroom to meet this requirement, the pattern will inevitably repeat.
This won’t be limited to waking hours. If the mind and body usually act hastily at the first sign of a need to urinate, you’ll be woken up as soon as the bladder starts to fill up.
If you teach the brain to hold urine for a safe amount of time, these messages will be less urgent.
Food and Drink
The 6 hours before bed affect sleep. You’ll want to urinate several times overnight if you ingest anything that aggravates the bladder. Avoid consuming the following in the afternoon:
- Citrus fruits.
- Carbonated beverages.
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Excessive salt.
Be mindful of liquid consumption before bed. For example, exchanging a 9 PM cup of coffee (a diuretic) for decaf or herbal tea is better, but it’ll still increase the liquid in your body.
A few sips of water are recommended to prevent you from heading to bed thirsty.
Medical explanations for frequent urination at night include the following:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Kidney problems.
- Enlarged prostate.
- Infected urethra.
- Enlarged prostate.
- Interstitial cystitis.
- Bladder stones.
A doctor will review your bladder and kidneys for signs of inflammation or infection.
Medications Used to Treat Nocturia
Surgery is a last resort. However, it’ll be considered if nocturia significantly affects your quality of life, and surgical intervention will dramatically improve the concern.
Anticholinergic medications are sometimes used to treat overactive bladders.
The drug blocks the actions of acetylcholine, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for urination. The acetylcholine tells the muscles to relax.
Anticholinergics reduce the need to urinate. As the acetylcholine is blocked, the bladder muscles remain closed. This means that, even if wastewater accumulates, it can’t be purged as frequently.
Anticholinergics can cause constipation, so it’s only prescribed when nocturia risks incontinence.
Desmopressin replaces the vasopressin that an older person is no longer organically creating. This means the kidneys will hold onto water longer, producing less urine.
Some doctors prescribe medical diuretics. While this may seem counterproductive if you’re urinating excessively at night, peeing more during the day means you’re less likely to do so at night.
While the occasional trip to the bathroom at night is normal, don’t allow this to define your sleep patterns. It’ll be frustrating for you and a partner who shares your bed.
Make lifestyle changes to avoid nocturia, and seek medical treatment if these solutions don’t work.