Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Are you one of those people who wake up at night to go? It can be so frustrating and annoying and even tiring as it disrupts our sleep. It's actually not normal to have to get up to use the bathroom, especially not if you're on the younger end of the spectrum. When we're sleeping, the brain produces a hormone to "quiet down" your kidneys so they don't produce as much urine. This allows us to sleep through the night without needing to go.1
If you notice that you are consistently waking up more than once per night, you might want to seek some help.
Nocturia is a condition that causes you to wake up once or more a night to pee. As you age (usually over 60) waking up one to two times per night is normal. Females may experience once per night after menopause due to hormonal changes. Males may experience once per night voiding due to enlarged prostate as they age.
Things that may contribute to nocturia 1,2:
Intake of fluid or foods that may irritate the bladder (ie. alcohol)
Intake of diuretics (water pill)
Swelling in legs and feet
Infections of the urinary system (UTIs)
Bladder spasm/overactivation, interstitial cystitis
Neurologic bladder (abnormal nerve communication to the bladder)
Medical conditions such as diabetes or congestive heart failure
Here are a few tips to help if you suffer from nocturia:
Elevate your legs prior to going to bed if you have swelling in your legs or feet. This allows for excess fluid to be filtered out prior to falling asleep. It then reduces the amount of fluid needed to be processed while you are sleeping.
Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to your lower abdomen before sleeping. This tip in particular seems counterintuitive until you understand the anatomy and physiology of voiding. When you feel the sensation to go number one, it's because your bladder is contracting to tell your brain it's time to go. Then, you head to the bathroom and the combination of a contracting bladder and relaxed pelvic floor is what pushes the urine out. Applying heat to your abdomen relaxes your bladder so that you are less likely to feel that urge during the night.
If you take water pills, change their intake time. The closer you take it to bed, the more likely you are to be affected by the urge to go in the night.
Avoid irritants (food/fluid) at night. This is obvious. Try not to drink or eating very water-rich foods in the hours right before bed.
If you're someone who is exhausted from getting up multiple times in the night to use the bathroom, I hope some of these tips help you. If you've exhausted your at-home fixes and tips, it might be time to see a pelvic floor therapist.
Dr. Yvonne Huang