What is Nocturia (Excessive Urination at Night)?

Posted by Tyler Britton on Aug 11, 2021 2:14:00 PM

What is nocturia- Anchorage Sleep Center

There is a Condition for Frequent Nighttime Urination: Nocturia

Are you waking up several times or more throughout the night to urinate? Is it causing you to feel tired in the morning and sleep deprived throughout the day? If so, you may be experiencing nocturia, which is the term for frequent urgency or excessive urination at night. 

Nocturia is problematic because it causes sleep deprivation and should be taken seriously.

So what is Nocturia? Someone without nocturia will usually go the whole night without having to wake up to urinate. At most, if too much alcohol or water was consumed before bed, such people will wake up once. With nocturia, you might wake up at least three times, but it’s not uncommon for people to wake up six time or more.

The link between nocturia and sleep deprivation depends on the number of awakenings throughout the night:

  • Three times per night is likely to cause daytime sleepiness
  • Five times per night is likely to cause significant sleep deprivation
  • More than five times per night is likely to cause severe sleep deprivation

Symptoms of Nocturia

Nocturia symptoms include waking up at least three times most nights with a need to urinate. In order to discuss this issue with your physician, it's important to keep track of the following items:

  • How many times you wake up to urinate
  • Whether or not you are experiencing daytime fatigue
  • How much you urinate when you wake up
  • Whether or not you are drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed

Assessing these points is important for:

  • Identifying if you even have nocturia, or providing valuable information to your doctor for diagnoses
  • Potentially identifying what is causing your nocturia
  • Understanding how severe it is

Keeping a sleep journal will be helpful for this

Nocturia vs Bed Wetting

Nocturia is not the same as bed wetting. Bed wetting does not involve rousing from sleep. Bed wetting may be a natural occurrence, but Nocturia can be caused by a multitude of factors, or a combination of factors, such as:

  • Lifestyle habits
  • Medical conditions
  • Naturally occurring life circumstances
  • Sleeping disorders

Let’s look at these causes in more detail.

Nocturia is Not a Full-Bladder Problem

Up until recently, people thought that simply have a full bladder was the cause of nocturia. However, many suffering with nocturia can tell you that the urge to pee that wakes them up does not usually translate to actually having much urine to dispel.

While a full bladder can cause nocturia in isolated cases, a full bladder isn’t the cause of chronic nocturia unless you are in the habit of drinking lots of water or alcohol before bed every night.

Natural and Lifestyle Causes of Nocturia

Nocturia can be a naturally occurring condition for biological and lifestyle reasons. Some common examples are:

  • As we age, because as we get older we produce less anti-diuretic hormones and/or our bladder loses holding capacity as we age
  • During pregnancy, due to the bladder being squeezed
  • Drinking excess alcohol
  • Drinking excess coffee
  • Drinking too much water before bed
  • It is a known symptom of sleep apnea.

If lifestyle causes, such as drinking too much water, alcohol or caffeine before bed is the problem, then nocturia can be treated by changing these habits. Some ways to reverse this are:

  • Drink more liquids earlier in the day
  • Stop drinking alcohol and caffeine in the hours before bed, as they stimulate urine production

Keep a sleep diary if you having trouble with nocturia to see if you can identify lifestyle habits that may be causing it.

Medical Causes of Nocturia

There are also numerous medical conditions which can cause nocturia. These include:

  • Urological infection
  • Tumor of the bladder or prostate
  • Disorders affecting sphincter control
  • Heart failure
  • Liver failure
  • Diabetes

For these reasons, if you think you have nocturia you should definitely consult with your doctor.

Treating Nocturia

As discussed, nocturia may be causes by lifestyle factors. However, there are serious medical conditions that can cause it as well. If you are experiencing nocturia, consult your doctor or sleep specialist right away.

Also as discussed, being able to provide the following information to your doctor or sleep specialist will be helpful for them:

  • How many times you woke up the previous night
  • How much urine you expelled each time you went
  • What you drank the previous evening and when you drank it
  • How you feel during the day (okay, tired, very tired, etc.)

Generally, treatment begins with medications, bladder or neurological tests, an ultrasound, or a recommendation to a sleep center for testing. Take this free online sleep test to get started on the road to diagnoses and recovery.

Take a Free Online Sleep Test

Topics: Nocturia

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