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, a condition that must be managed to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
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.
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 as you’re not getting enough uninterrupted sleep.
I Keep Needing to Pee During the Night
If you regularly need to urinate during the night, it’ll soon impact your sleep quality. Each time you get up to visit the bathroom, you’ll reset your sleep pattern, and this poor rest will take its toll.
The need to urinate a lot at night is known as nocturia. To be considered a case of nocturia, you’ll urinate more in the evening 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.
Is it Normal to Pee at Night?
Many older people joke about their inability to get through the night without urinating at least once. This is a natural aspect of aging. As we grow older, our bodies produce less vasopressin, the hormone in the renal system that retains fluid in the body.
As our bodies create less vasopressin, we must release wastewater as urine more often. The muscles also weaken as we age, including those in the bladder. The consequences of this are that more trips to the bathroom become necessary.
Even so, while it’s normal to need to urinate overnight, don’t allow this to become the norm. You can regain control of your bladder from nocturia and enjoy periods of uninterrupted sleep.
Why Do I Keep Waking Up to Go to the Toilet?
You should be glad that you’re waking up to urinate. As discussed above, bladder weakness and nocturia can lead to incontinence. The Canadian Urological Association Journal refers to this as nocturnal enuresis.
Assuming that you wake up and use the toilet in good time, you need to 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 in the night, it stands to reason that you’ll need to urinate when you wake. Focus on improving your sleep patterns so you’re naturally more inclined to stay asleep and need to urinate less.
If an overactive bladder is awakening you, this is more concerning. There could be a medical explanation for your issue beyond simple nocturia.
Should You Go to the Toilet Before Bed?
You should always attempt to use the bathroom last thing before getting into bed, even if you don’t feel that you need to. You’ll inevitably need to urinate at some stage, and if you’ve previously voided your bladder, you’re likelier to make it through the night.
Part of this is psychology. Your body and brain 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. As a result, you’ll wake up during sleep.
How Many Times Should You Go to the Toilet at Night?
Our bodies are unique, so we have varying levels of urination. Anything more than a single need to urinate during the night should raise eyebrows, though.
A healthy adult with a functioning bladder that doesn’t have nocturia will comfortably sleep for 6-8 hours without the necessity to pee. Needing to urinate once is still considered standard.
Nocturia could be responsible if you need to urinate more than once during the night, especially after falling asleep. If external factors aren’t at play, such as consuming bladder-irritating drinks late at night, consider how you’ll manage nocturia.
How Do I Stop Going to the Toilet at Night?
Most evenings will become a gauntlet of frustration if you live with 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 some lifestyle adjustments to help minimize urination needs during the night. If those are insufficiently effective, you may need to seek advice from a doctor.
As we grow older, we’ll all experience nocturia – it’s virtually impossible to eliminate the issue. You can take steps to make it less annoying and intrusive, though.
Best Sleeping Position for an Overactive Bladder
The first step anybody can take to combat nocturia and reduce the risk of urinating at night is adjusting their sleeping posture. Some positions are undeniably more effective than others at staving off the need to wake up and pee.
Avoid any position that involves placing pressure on the bladder. That will speed up the inevitable. That means that sleeping on your stomach is inadvisable. Stick to your side, or even better, lay on your back.
In addition to finding a comfortable position that reduces pressure on your bladder, elevate your legs to slow down fluid accumulation in the bladder. You don’t need special, expensive equipment – just a pillow or two will do the trick.
Get some compression socks, as these will reduce fluid accumulation. These steps should help you last several hours without urinating, enhancing your chances of a good night’s sleep.
Natural Remedies for Nocturia
Sleeping positions and compression socks alone will not resolve nocturia, which may help with the symptoms but will do little to aid with the root cause of the urination. Make lifestyle changes to feel comfortable and confident that you won’t need to urinate at night.
You may be surprised at what impacts the bladder overnight. Some habits, such as drinking before bed, could be ingrained in your routine. The human body constantly evolves; sometimes, we develop a seemingly overnight aversion to things that have never bothered us.
Healthy Sleep Patterns
Enjoying a healthy sleep pattern can be the first step toward reducing the impact of nocturia. If your body is trained and coached to sleep through the night, it is less likely to react to messages from the brain related to urination until they become urgent.
Practice good sleep hygiene to ensure you use the bathroom before bed and enjoy a reliable sleep-wake cycle. You could also divide your sleep pattern into two shorter periods if necessary.
Keep an eye on your urinary habits while sleeping. If you find that you can’t sleep more than, say, three hours without a bathroom break, consider taking a four-hour nap in the afternoon and sleeping another four hours at night.
This cycle will allow you to get around eight hours of sleep with fewer interruptions. If you’re lucky, you may even complete the duration of your snooze without heading for the bathroom.
Dividing your sleep is not ideal – it’s preferable to undertake one long slumber at night. If this is the only way to enjoy rest with minimal interruptions, it should be embraced as Plan B.
Undergoing some measure of bladder training may reduce your need for comfort breaks at night. The Journal of the American Medical Association recommends bladder training as a first step in treating incontinence, and the same applies to nocturia.
Bladder training in adults is comparable to potty training in young children. The aim is to teach the brain to react calmly and not to sub-optimal bladder performance and strength.
As discussed, bladder muscles weaken with age. As a result, reacting as soon as a need to urinate makes itself known is often tempting. The brain sends increasingly urgent, panicked messages when we need to pee. If you then leap into action, racing to the bathroom, the pattern will repeat itself repeatedly.
As you can imagine, this won’t be limited to waking hours. If your brain and body usually act hastily at the first hint of a need to urinate, you’ll be woken up as soon as wastewater is pushed toward the bladder.
If you teach your brain to wait and your bladder to hold urine for a period that retains safety and comfort, these messages will be less panic-stricken. As a result, you’re less likely to be woken multiple times to urinate at night.
Food and Drink Consumption
Consider your eating and drinking habits in the afternoon and evening. The six hours before heading to bed can significantly affect your sleep. If you ingest anything that aggravates your bladder in this period, you’ll likely need to urinate multiple times overnight.
Avoid consuming any of the following in the afternoon or evening to reduce the symptoms of nocturia, especially if you’re prone to waking up and needing to pee:
Be mindful of liquids before bed, too. Don’t just exchange that 9 pm cup of coffee for decaf or herbal tea. A few sips of water are recommended to prevent you from heading to bed thirsty. When bathroom breaks don’t impact your sleep schedule, save your hydration for the morning.
Nocturia Medication and Professional Treatment
Eventually, you may need to discuss your nocturia with a doctor, especially if you also struggle with polyuria. As discussed, there could be a medical explanation for frequent urination at night.
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney issues
- Enlarged prostate
Even if you need medical assistance, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a severe health condition. Nocturia may be an independent concern that needs to be addressed alone.
If a doctor cannot find a medical explanation for nocturia and you’ve adopted the lifestyle changes discussed above, you may be invited to undertake tests. These will review your bladder and kidneys for signs of inflammation or infection, with tailored treatment following if appropriate.
Medications Use to Treat Nocturia
If necessary, you’ll be prescribed medication to soothe the symptoms of nocturia.
Surgery may be considered a last resort, but only if the nocturia significantly harms your quality of life, and such an intervention will dramatically improve the concern.
Anticholinergic medications are sometimes used to treat overactive bladder, typically in the elderly. These drugs block the actions of acetylcholine, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for urination. The acetylcholine tells the muscles to relax.
Essentially, anticholinergics reduce the need to urinate. As the acetylcholine is blocked, the bladder muscles remain closed. This means that, even if wastewater is starting to build up in the body, it cannot be purged too frequently.
Unfortunately, this means that anticholinergics can have side effects that swing too far the other way. Constipation is an expected impact of these medications. As a result, anticholinergics are typically only prescribed when nocturia risks becoming incontinent.
Another medication to combat nocturia is desmopressin. This medicine replaces the vasopressin that an older person is no longer organically creating. This means the kidneys will hold onto water for longer, producing less urine.
Some doctors may also prescribe medical diuretics. Diuretic medication may seem counterproductive if you’re urinating excessively at night. These prescriptions encourage a reliable, regular urinary schedule, and peeing more during the day means you’re less likely to be disturbed at night.
While the occasional trip to the bathroom at night is expected, don’t allow this to define your sleep patterns. It’ll be frustrating for you and equally so for a partner that shares your bed. Make the necessary lifestyle changes to avoid nocturia, seeking medical advice if these are ineffective.