Most people are able to get a full night’s rest of between six and eight hours without needing to wake up to pee in the middle of their sleep. However, there are those who find themselves waking up multiple times to relieve their bladders.
This is a widely recognized problem and there is even a technical name for this condition – nocturia! Another technical term for it is nocturnal polyuria.
Nocturia should, however, not be confused with bedwetting (whose technical name is enuresis). In bed wetting there is no control over the need to urinate and a person suffering from this condition just relieves their bladder in bed. How to stop frequent urination at night in the case of nocturia also differs from the techniques applied in bed wetting.
While nocturia is normal especially if you had just consumed fluids just before retiring to bed, it can be a problem at times. This is especially so when the frequency of waking up to relieve the bladder is too high and results in fragmented sleep.
But what is normal and when should you consider it a problem?
In an average human being the bladder is capable of holding approximately 600 ml of urine. The urge to pass urine is however felt when the bladder is holding around 150 ml of pee.
Some physicians are of the opinion that getting up once at night to relieve your bladder is normal while others hold the view that sleep should be uninterrupted throughout the night. But generally if you are waking up multiple times at night to pee it can be safely assumed you have a problem. In the most severe cases an individual can find themselves waking up between 5 and 6 times in one night to relieve their bladder.
Recurring urination at night is usually not a disease by itself but rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Thus nocturia should not just be seen as a nuisance to be wished away but should be taken seriously as it could be a sign of something more serious.
So besides frequent urination at night how do you tell you are suffering from nocturia?
Symptoms of Nocturia
- Urinating too frequently at other times other than nighttime.
- Overproduction of urine.
- Feeling an urgent need to pee but when you are eventually in a position to relieve your bladder, you produce little urine.
Before we examine how to stop frequent urination at night it is important to understand the causes of this condition.
While some of the causes only require a change of behavior in order to cure nocturia, others may require medical attention.
Causes of Frequent Night Urination
- Lifestyle factors – One of the leading causes of nocturia is taking in lots of fluids just before going to bed. Drinks which contain high levels of caffeine including soda, coffee and tea are especially big contributors to the need to go frequently at night.
Citrus fruits such as oranges and sweeteners in fizzy drinks also cause bladder irritation leading to frequent nighttime urination.When this is the cause of nocturia, the solution it pretty simple – just avoid consuming fluids several hours before you go to bed.
- Pregnancy – during the early stages of a pregnancy women may experience a rising need to relieve their bladders at night. This is due to the increasing levels of progesterone as well as the ballooning uterus which places pressure on the bladder causing frequent urination.
- Medications – there are certain medications which when taken increase the need to pee due to their effect on the bladder. These medications include drugs for treating colds and diuretics. Antacids and calcium supplements are also known to cause this condition.
- Urinary Tract Infection – some medical conditions such as urinary tract infections are known causes of nocturia. With UTIs, the lining of the bladder as well as the urethra’s gets inflamed and irritated and this irritation is what leads to the urge to frequently relieve yourself. This amount of urine is, however, smaller compared to the usual times.In fact, frequent urination at night is one of the symptoms of UTIs alongside other signs such as a burning sensation.
- Bladder stones – when the urinary tract has bladder stones lodged inside there, this results in blockage and consequently can cause frequent urination at night. Some of the symptoms of bladder stones include an interrupted flow of urine or trouble urinating. It is important to note that some of the symptoms of bladder stones can easily be confused with those of UTIs.
- Chronic medical conditions – long-lasting medical conditions such as congestive heart failure are also potentially causes of frequent night urination. With congestive heart failure, for instance, the patient experiences swellings in their ankles and legs during the day. When they go to bed there is a redistribution of the fluid resulting in the kidneys producing more urine.Other chronic diseases which are responsible for causing nocturia include multiple sclerosis (around 80% of MS patients are estimated to suffer from bladder dysfunction including nocturia – this is because MS lesions can block or disrupt the transmission of nerve signals which control the urinary sphincters and the bladder), Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes, vascular disorders and heart disease.
- Sleep apnea – When you enter deep sleep, your body produces the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) which allows your bladder to retain more fluid throughout the night. But people suffering from sleep apnea are unable to get into deep sleep and consequently their bodies are unable to produce enough ADH.Additionally, sleep apnea causes disrupted breathing which results in wakefulness and this is ultimately responsible for making a patient head to the bathroom more frequently. This is because when your sleep is interrupted your body will recognize the subtle signal to relieve your bladder. But had your sleep not been interrupted you would have been able to wait till morning to relieve your bladder.The disrupted breathing also results in the oxygen levels going down and this causes the kidneys to excrete more water which obviously leads to frequent urination at night.
- Alcohol – consuming alcohol not only increases the amount of fluids in the body and thus raising the amount of water you have to pass, but it also has an effect on the ADH hormone which as earlier mentioned is the hormone that enables your bladder to hold more urine than normal when you are sleeping.What alcohol does to the ADH is to suppress the level of the hormone that is being produced and thus preventing your bladder from holding as much urine as it should when you are asleep. Thus you will tend to urinate more frequently at night after drinking alcohol.
- Diabetes insipidus & diabetes mellitus – frequent urination is one of the early symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The frequent urge to urinate is caused by the body needing to get rid of unused glucose via peeing.
Additionally, diabetes can also cause damage to the nerves which control the bladder consequently leading to frequent urination.
- Neurological diseases – when the nerves that supply the bladder are damaged, it can result in problems such as a frequent urge to urinate at night.
- Bladder cancer – as a result of the tumors causing bleeding or taking up space, nocturia maybe witnessed.
- Age – as you get older, the frequent urge to urinate at night increases. Additionally, old age is known to shrink the bladder capacity thereby making it necessary to empty it more frequently than usual. These muscles also weaken with age and thus making it increasingly difficult to hold the pee in the urinary bladder.
Besides the holding capacity of the bladder reducing as we age, the body produces less of the hormone which allows us to retain fluids as we grow older and thus our bladders fill at a more rapid rate.
- Prolapse – cases of pelvic organ prolapse and bladder prolapse are also known risk factors when it comes to frequent urination at nighttime. This is because in such instances, there is additional pressure put on the urinary tract and this leads to constant urges to relieve the bladder while sleeping.
- Male prostate problems – when you have prostate problems, it gets harder to hold urine in the bladder. This is because the enlarged prostate presses against the urethra blocking urine flow consequently irritating the bladder wall. As a result the bladder contracts even when only small urine amounts have collected and thereby leading to frequent urination.
- Cystitis – radiation cystitis and interstitial cystitis are known to cause bladder malfunctions leading to nocturia. This is because these conditions inflame the bladder.
- Overactive bladder (OAB) – if you are suffering from overactive bladder incontinence, there is an abnormal urge to urinate and this may cause frequent urination at night. This condition is usually caused when the muscles of the urinary bladder experience abnormal contractions with the end result being a sudden and uncontrollable urge to pee.While OAB can happen at any age in life, it usually affects the elderly.
While frequent urination at night is more of a symptom of other diseases rather than a disease by itself, some clinical studies have shown that those suffering from it are more likely to possess a higher risk of early death. Part of the reason is that some of the causes of nocturia are serious diseases.
Additionally, the increased risk of early death has also been attributed to the fact that having to get up multiple times during the night leads to fragmented sleep which has been proven to cause higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. With increased cortisol levels, the end result is poor immunity and consequently poor health.
Also, by virtue of the fact that you are waking up too frequently in the middle of the night to pee, you will not be adequately rested and thus you will feel fatigued and sleepy during daytime. This could lead to reduced productivity generally. The likelihood of falling and injuring oneself also increases in the elderly if they are frequently running to the bathroom at night.
It is thus important to figure out how to stop frequent urination at night in order to improve the quality of life.
So how do you stop frequent urination at night? Below we look at the various treatments for nocturia:
How to stop frequent urination at night – home remedies
Due to the fact that nocturia has many underlying causes, the treatment varies and is usually dependent on the reason behind the condition. Usually you will stop frequent nighttime urination once the underlying cause or causes are treated.
In situations where a medical condition has been ruled out as the cause of nocturia by a physician, all that is required is a change in lifestyle. Some of the lifestyle changes you can make to your life include the following:
- Limiting fluid intake – in order to avoid having to wake up multiple times to relieve your bladder, you should ensure that you reduce the amount of fluids you consume just before bedtime. Additionally, you should avoid alcohol and beverages containing caffeine when evening comes.
In the event that your mouth or throat feels dry when you are asleep or just before you go to bed, just take a sip of water rather than a full glass of water.
- Dinner – Ensure that you eat your dinner at least two hours prior to going to bed. Why? Solid meals also possess some water content and by doing this you will have ample time to relieve your bladder before you retire.
- Stay warm in bed – cold temperatures not only stimulate urination but also reduce sweating leaving urination the only way to dispose fluid wastes from the body. Thus you should ensure that you keep yourself warm while you are sleeping.
- Comfortable bed – sometimes discomfort is the reason why some people wake up and then find that they have to go to the bathroom. To avoid this the best solution is to ensure that your mattress is comfortable so that you have no reason to wake up to pee.
- Bladder retraining – with this technique you retrain the bladder to hold pee for longer than usual. This basically involves lengthening the intervals between relieving your bladder in the course of around three months.
In doing so the bladder is modified to hold pee for longer periods thus reducing the frequency of urination.
- Diet modification – this requires avoiding foods which irritate the bladder such as chocolate, spices and tomato-based products such as ketchup. Diet modification also requires consuming a diet high in fiber to prevent constipation as when you are constipated you tend to urinate frequently.
- Kegel exercises – these exercises keep the muscles of the pelvic floor toned and strengthened and this may assist in staving off the frequency of urination that comes about as a result of old age.
- Exercise and wear support hose or compression socks in case of a swelling condition – people whose feet and legs swell tend to wake up frequently at night to pee.
This is because the fluid that has collected at the lower limbs during daytime will be reabsorbed to the rest of the body once you go to bed and are lying horizontally. Eventually the fluid will get to the kidneys for processing and soon enough your bladder will be full and thus requiring to be relieved.
For those who experience swelling of the lower limbs, the solution is to exercise and to wear support hose with a view of ensuring that the fluid that collects at the legs and feet is processed before you go to sleep.
Compression socks can also assist in preventing the accumulation of fluid in your lower limbs and thus minimizing the need to urinate at night.
- Elevating your legs during the day – another tip on how to stop frequent urination at night is to prop up your legs and ensure that they are at the same level as your heart in late afternoon. You should do this for about an hour and the most appropriate time is late afternoon.
By doing this, it will help you pee during the day as opposed to night when you are in bed. This is the case if the reason for your frequent nighttime urination is edema – swelling of the legs.
In this regard, another tip on how to stop frequent urination at night is to take an afternoon naps which involves having your legs up – this will reduce swelling as well as redistribute the body fluids.
- Rescheduling your medications – due to the fact that some medications such as diuretics, antidepressants, antibiotics, prescription pain relievers and anesthetics cause the frequent urination at night, you can solve this problem by rescheduling the times you take them if possible. For instance, instead of taking a diuretic at bedtime you can consume it in the morning.
- Reduce salt intake – another tip regarding how to stop frequent urination at night is to cut your salt intake. By reducing your sodium intake from say 10.7 grams to 8 grams per day will see you make one less visit to the bathroom at night to pee. Cutting this even further will reduce the visits considerably.
- Use of medication – though medications can’t cure nocturia they can assist in alleviating the symptoms. A class of drugs known as anticholinergics can for instance help in relaxing muscle spasms in the bladder as well as reducing the urge to pee more frequently or in other words lessening overactive bladder symptoms.
Anticholinergics are also useful in reducing bed-wetting. Like most medications anticholinergics have side effects and these include blurred vision, dizziness and dry mouth.Other medications that are prescribed include desmopressin which works by causing the kidneys to produce less urine during the night.
There are also other methods of how to stop frequent urination at night that wouldn’t count as home remedies and they include the following:
- Nerve stimulation – when what is causing nocturia is neurological (where the nerves which send signals to the bladder for it to contract thus giving you the urge to relieve yourself are malfunctioning), nerve stimulation can be a solution.
In such a case the treatment can be both done invasively or noninvasively.When done invasively, a small device which sends regulated impulses to the bladder near the tailbone is implanted. This sort of invasive treatment has been shown to be effective in the long-term and safe as well. It is also reversible.
The non-invasive treatment involves electrical stimulation and research indicates that this works for nocturia and overactive bladder.
- Surgery – this is usually recommended when medications and prevention don’t seem to work. With a surgical procedure, the success rate depends on the cause of your nocturia. Surgery may, for instance, be highly effective when the underlying cause of your nocturia is prostate problems rather than other conditions.
- Treating the underlying conditions – with some medical conditions being the cause of nocturia, the obvious solution regarding how to stop frequent urination at night is to seek treatment for the particular disease.
How to stop nocturia – Treating the underlying conditions
- Urinary Tract Infection – When a UTI is what is causing the frequent urination at nighttime, the physician will most likely prescribe a treatment for the UTI which in most cases is an antibiotic.
- Stroke and other neurological diseases – in such a case behavioral therapy which involves bladder retraining may be recommended. Additionally, medication which reduces the urinary frequency may also be prescribed.
- Interstitial cystitis – this condition requires the attention of a urologist. In some cases surgery might be necessary though medications work too. Some of medications that might be prescribed include a drug known as pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron). Antihistamines, pain medications and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Prostate problems – if nocturia is being caused by an enlarged prostate, two common drugs may be prescribed. One of them is the alpha blockers which is used in relaxing the muscle cells while the other is the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (5ARIs). In some cases surgery may also be a solution for prostate problems.
- Bladder cancer – some of the treatment options for this disease include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
- Overactive bladder syndrome – when the cause of the frequent nighttime urination is the overactive bladder syndrome, treatment includes bladder retraining as well as over the counter bladder control medicines such as Oxytrol.There are bladder control supplements that you can use such as Azo Bladder Control with Go-Less. Other treatments involve the use of nerve stimulation techniques including sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) and percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS).
- Stress Urinary Incontinence – In situations where nocturia is being caused by stress urinary incontinence, some of the treatment options include kegel exercises, radio frequency energy treatment and pelvic floor stimulation. Women suffering from stress urinary incontinence may also be prescribed estrogen creams to alleviate the problem.
- Multiple sclerosis – where MS is behind the frequent urination at night possible solutions include behavioral modification, bladder training, pelvic floor therapy and surgical interventions such as intermittent self-catheterization.
Before you figure out how to stop frequent urination at night it is important to understand why this is necessary. Some people may have gotten accustomed to waking up multiple times to relieve their bladders and thus may wonder why anyone would bother themselves seeking a solution. But it is important because nocturia can affect your overall health and wellbeing negatively and can lead to the following:
- Depression and anxiety
- Memory issues
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Increase heart disease risk
- Higher risk of falls
It is thus important to seek a solution to the problem. Not for the sake of it but for an improved quality of life and generally for a healthier you.