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What is Nocturia?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Nocturia is the need to get up several times a night to urinate and can have many causes. Even when these are relatively benign, it can still be a challenging condition because it interferes with getting an appropriate amount of sleep at night. People who frequently need to urinate during their regular sleep hours often get less deep sleep than they should, and may exhibit sleepiness or exhaustion during the day.

Normally, when we sleep at night our urine becomes more concentrated, enabling us to sleep for a six to eight hour stretch without the bladder feeling uncomfortably full. When the bladder feels full, this signals the brain to wake up. Nocturia be a result in people and children who have had bed-wetting issues in the past. The fear of accidentally wetting the bed may cause the person to be hypersensitive to any sense of fullness in the bladder.

Sometimes the causes of nocturia are simple and easy to treat. Drinking a lot of liquids prior to bed can result in the occasional case. This may be resolved by abstaining from liquids a few hours before bedtime, and especially by avoiding intake of alcohol or caffeine.

Certain medications may result in nocturia, too. Diuretics, which help the body shed excess fluids, are a direct cause of the condition. This may be addressed by taking diuretics at different times of the day. Other medications, like those for cardiac conditions and bipolar disorder may need to be taken at specific times of the day. The importance of these medications generally outweighs the side effects of nocturia.

Nocturia may be symptomatic of certain illnesses or conditions. A bladder or kidney infection can easily cause transient nocturia, but is usually resolved through treatment with antibiotics. Both early and late pregnancy result in more frequent urination, and are naturally resolved when the pregnancy is over. Enlargement of the prostate gland translates to more frequent cases of nocturia. At other times, nocturia indicates serious health conditions including diabetes, congestive heart failure, prostate cancer, or kidney failure.

Another serious cause of nocturia is sleep apnea. This is when a person stops breathing for several seconds, several times a night. This may translate to lighter sleep patterns and more of a sense that you should get up and use the bathroom.

Since nocturia can indicate some serious conditions, it is important to report nocturia to your physician. Sometimes the cause is easily treated, but at other times, the condition may indicate significant health risks. Further, even the most benign cause may still prove dangerous when it translates to exhaustion or sleepiness during the day. Lack of sleep is considered a high risk factor for accidents on the job and while driving.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon142324 — On Jan 12, 2011

I've been getting up middle of night three times to urinate, even without drinking, and I haven't drunk alcohol for 10 years.

By anon113783 — On Sep 26, 2010

i have some problem. if i'm not drinking water also i will pass urine at night. why? i can't wake up. only after passing will i wake up. please tell me what i have to do.

By medicchristy — On Aug 06, 2010

@anon79053: There could be different factors contributing to the frequent urination.

My dad was having the same problem. He saw a urologist and ended up having to have a minor prostate surgery.

He now takes a medication called Flomax and seems to be doing much better.

I would definitely try to see a urologist if the problem continues.

By anon79053 — On Apr 21, 2010

I am drinking water, three to four liters but I feel I have to urinate every hour in the day I am doing exercise every day for one to two hours. Jacking and some yoga I used to go bed at 11 p.m. but I am going to urinate three times but I do not have any tiredness. please advise me why.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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