Do you find yourself waking up more than once to use the bathroom at night? You may have nocturia, a condition that causes you to need to get out of bed to pee 2 or more times in one night. And while a couple extra trips to the bathroom may seem harmless, it can lead to fragmented, disrupted sleep, leaving you tired and cranky the next day.
Below are 5 things you can try to stop those frequent trips to the bathroom at night.
#1 Keep A Bladder Diary.
It may sound funny to track your bathroom visits, but a bladder diary is a great tool in identifying the culprits that may be causing you to use the bathroom more often at night. A bladder diary will track your fluid intake (type and amount), how often you use the bathroom during the day, how often you get up to use the bathroom at night, and whether or not that accompanies any bladder leakage. Keep it for 4-7 days to help you spot any trends. This tool is also useful for your doctor so hang onto it and share it with him or her on your next visit.
#2 Minimize Urine Production at night
This one is pretty obvious, but it’s important. As we age, we tend to not be able to hold as much in our bladder, which can make us have to use the bathroom more often even if we’re drinking the same amount as we always have before. Be careful not to limit your fluids too much, but do watch what you’re eating and drinking in the few hours before bed to ensure you’re not falling asleep with an already too full bladder.
- Avoid excessive fluid intake 4-6 hours before bed (this includes both food and drinks)
- Avoid caffeine after the morning and limit alcohol at night. Both alcohol and caffeine can make urine more acidic which can irritate the lining of the bladder, causing you to need the bathroom more frequently.
- Empty your bladder before bed.
- Take any medications that may act as diuretics earlier in the day if possible (check with your doctor on this first).
#3 Redistribute fluid
If your ankles or legs swell up during the day, the fluid that builds up then gets sent back into the bloodstream when you lie down to sleep, which increases your blood pressure. As a result, the kidneys start working overtime to create more urine so your body can flush the excess fluid out of your system, and consequently causing you to wake up to empty your bladder. If you’re experiencing swollen ankles or legs, try some of these tips to help redistribute fluid throughout the day and minimize accumulation.
- Elevate the legs periodically to avoid any fluid build up in the ankles and calves.
- Use Compression Socks. These elastic stockings exert pressure against the leg while decreasing pressure on the veins, allowing fluids to be redistributed and reabsorbed into the bloodstream. (Check out these super cute ones from Vim&Vigr.)
#4 Practice good sleep hygiene.
Setting yourself up for a good nights sleep can help fight off insomnia, which may be part of the reason you’re up in the first place. While waking up to go to the bathroom may be the culprit of your insomnia, it could also be that not being able to go or stay asleep could be contributing to nocturia. Many people only think they have to go to the bathroom at night but when they get up to go, they produce just a trickle. This may mean that insomnia, and not nocturia, is actually the culprit and can be caused by a host of different reasons. Be sure to practice good Sleep Hygiene to encourage a functional circadian rhythm (which is your body’s natural clock) and ensure you’re not sabotaging your own sleep. Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s article on sleep hygiene, which discuses the tips below in greater detail:
- Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
- Set a consistent sleep and wake time.
- Exercise regularly (but not right before bed)
- Avoid foods that may be disruptive right before sleep (like spicy or heavy, rich foods)
- Reserve the bed for sleep and sex
- Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine
- Keep your bedroom quite, comfortable, and dark.
#5 Talk to your doctor
While the above tips may help ease your nocturia a bit, it’s usually a good idea to see a professional to treat your nocturia. Behavioral changes don’t always address the causes of nocturia. Nocturia is most often caused by nocturnal polyuria, a condition where the kidneys produce too much urine. That’s why treating nocturia at the source is so important. If you’re only focused on curing, say, overactive bladder, you’re only targeting the bladder, not the kidneys. In reality, both conditions should be treated to effectively manage their respective symptoms.
“Nocturia has always been hard to treat, but it is now recognized as more than just a symptom of another medical issue,“ says Dr. Donna Deng, Urologic Surgeon at The Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Oakland Department of Urology.
Nocturia does sometimes have underlying causes so it’s important to get a thorough checkup done by your doctor to rule out any other conditions.