There’s not much that’s more frustrating than interrupted sleep at night. For some, sleep is a challenge, but if you regularly have to get up to pee every few hours, then it’s especially difficult. Having to make a trip to the toilet in the middle of the night is referred to as “nocturia,” and it affects more women than men.
In fact, research in The Journal of Urology found that up to 44 percent of women aged 20 to 40 get up to pee at least once a night. Nearly 18 percent of women make a trip to the bathroom at least twice a night. But just because it’s a common occurrence doesn’t mean it’s normal.
Why are you peeing more at night?
If you suffer from nocturia, ask yourself if you really need to go. While the initial answer is probably a resounding yes, you may actually be waking up in response to something else. Your brain prevents your bladder from waking you up unless a trip to the bathroom is urgent. If you find that a trip to the bathroom yields small results, consider what else might be causing you to wake up.
Having to get up in the middle of the night to pee might be a sign that you’re stressed, but it might also be a warning sign that something else is wrong in the body. For instance, as we age, our bodies naturally lose hormones that have an antidiuretic effect on the kidneys. Your healthcare provider can help determine if you have a hormone imbalance.
Some sexually transmitted diseases can increase urine frequency too – gonorrhea and chlamydia especially. These are often accompanied by burning while urinating, so keep an eye out for that combination of symptoms.
Urinary tract infections can also cause you to get up more in the middle of the night. While UTIs usually cause burning when you urinate, suddenly having to pee in the middle of the night without a burning sensation might be a sign that a UTI is on its way.
Finally, if there’s a chance you’re prediabetic or diabetic, be sure to see your provider. Getting up to pee in the middle of the night is a sign that your body is having to increase urine production to clear excess blood sugar from your system. In most cases, though – whether we’re talking about an STD, UTI or diabetes – you’ll experience symptoms during the day too, so don’t worry too much if the problem is just at night.
That said, there are several lifestyle and behavior changes you can make to avoid getting up in the middle of the night.
1. Drink less water before bed
This one seems so obvious, but if you’re drinking a lot of water right up until it’s time for bed, you could be setting yourself up for an interrupted night. Doctors tell patients who experience nocturia to stop drinking fluids two hours before bed. Be sure to use the toilet before hopping in bed too. While it might sound simple, that habit could make all the difference.
2. Reduce your salt intake
People who cut their salt intake from 10.7 grams per day to just eight grams per day have to get up in the middle of the night to pee fewer times that those who don’t. That’s according to a 2017 study that looked at people aged 60 and above, the salt in their diet and the frequency of nocturia. A fun side effect of the sodium reduction is that subjects experienced improvement in their quality of life and felt more refreshed in the morning thanks to the improved quality of their sleep.
3. Practice stress relief
If you find that you’re waking up in the middle of the night because something is stressing you out and then you’re getting up to pee, the problem is likely in your mind. Try relaxation exercises before bed to help you stay asleep all night – anything from drinking chamomile tea while reading a paper book to meditation. You might find that your overnight problems are solved.
4. Do your Kegels – no matter what your gender
Yes, even men should practice pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels. The muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in the pelvic floor can relax with age, trauma – like childbirth – or illness, making it harder to keep urine in the bladder. In men, the urinary sphincter can become relaxed, and the bladder won’t contract properly.
No matter your gender, the best way to locate the muscles that need a workout is halfway through urination, stop or slow the flow of your urine. Later, contract these same muscles without constricting your buttocks to exercise the muscles and connective tissue in the pelvis for improved bladder control. As a bonus, you might find Kegels improve your intimate encounters.
5. Wear compression socks to bed
Often, we wake up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom because gravity pulls fluid down to the lower extremities when we lay down. The pressure against your legs releases pressure in the veins and allows the fluids in your body to move around and be reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
Compression socks worn at night can prevent the fluid from accumulating in your legs and might lessen your need to interrupt your sleep with a trip to the toilet. If you find that your legs and feet swell throughout the day, be sure to prop them up a few hours before bed to reduce fluid accumulation.
6. Exercise more often
Regular movement can help keep swelling down in your legs and feet. It can also help keep your stress levels down. Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day to help keep things flowing properly and to release tension. If you’re pressed for time, use the yoga pose Legs Up The Wall to reduce leg and feet swelling while balancing other systems in your body.
To do the pose, simply lay on the floor with your feet up on the wall and your arms out to your side. Stay there for as long as you’d like, for at least five minutes.
7. Check on your medications
Certain prescription medications have a diuretic effect. This is especially true if you’re on blood pressure medication. Diuretics work to eliminate sodium and water from the body, decreasing blood volume and easing the stress put on the heart and blood vessels. Other medications that have a similar effect include certain antidepressants, prescription pain relievers, anesthetics and some antibiotics. If you take any of these medications, try taking them at night, instead of the morning to reduce nighttime visits to the toilet.
After you rule out a medical cause for peeing in the middle of the night, try some or all of these tricks to improve your night’s sleep and stop peeing so frequently at night.
Have you successfully reduced your trips to the bathroom at night? Tell us about it in the comments!