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What is Nocturia? - Definition, Causes & Treatment

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

There are few things worse than waking up from a dead sleep because you have to use the bathroom. Nocturia is when you wake up in the middle of the night because you have to urinate. Find out why this happens and what treatments exist if it gets excessive.

What Is Nocturia?

Nocturia is when you wake up in the middle of the night simply because you have to urinate. This tends to increase in frequency as people age, and it can ruin a perfectly good night's sleep! No doubt you have awakened in the wee hours with the urge to go. Sometimes you may be able to put it off until morning and fall back asleep, but sometimes nature commands attention, and you're slipping out from under the covers and trudging to the bathroom. Under normal conditions, a person should be able to sleep a full six to eight hours without getting up to use the bathroom. A person with nocturia wakes at least once throughout the night.

Nocturia Causes

Why does this happen? Everyone just wants to get a good night of sleep! Nocturia can be caused by the overproduction of urine (polyuria), the overproduction of urine only at night (nocturnal polyuria), producing more urine than your bladder can hold throughout the night (low nocturnal bladder capacity), or a combination of many of the above (mixed nocturia). And, of course, in some cases, some people are just poor sleepers and decide to get up to use the bathroom every time they wake up.

Polyuria is caused by drinking lots of liquids, especially before bed. If you down a large bottle of water before you hit the hay, you will likely be waking up in a few hours with a spring in your step! Polyuria may also be caused by diabetes or an enlarged prostate gland.

Nocturnal polyuria can be a result of heart failure, edema, sleeping disorders, a reaction to certain medications, or over consuming liquids before bedtime. Low nocturnal bladder capacity is caused by various bladder issues, such as overactivity, obstruction, or an infection.

Diagnosing and Treating Nocturia

Chances are, you'll notice pretty quickly if you're continuously waking up to use the bathroom. All those interruptions can take a toll on your alertness and coffee consumption throughout the day. If you talk with a doctor, and he or she decides treatment is necessary, there are two main options to choose from: natural intervention or medication.

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