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Brandon Peters, M.D.

30 Days to Better Sleep: Decrease the Frequency of Trips to the Bathroom to Pee

By January 14, 2013

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There is nothing worse than having to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Once you get to sleep, the last thing you need is a full bladder waking you up. For some people, these awakenings may even evolve into difficulty falling back asleep, a symptom of insomnia. How can you decrease the number of trips to the bathroom to urinate in the night? Fortunately, there are a few changes that you can make that will help you to stay asleep and, if you do awaken, fall back asleep more easily.

First, it is uncommon for younger people to get up in the night to pee. Children may have enuresis, or bedwetting, but this is typically outgrown. There are also a number of effective behavioral treatments and even medications that can help. If your child is waking during the night to pee, it could be a sign of another medical condition or even a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

Later in life, our ability to concentrate urine overnight declines. As a result, bladders fill more quickly and compel trips to the bathroom. In particular, men who are middle aged or older may develop urinary frequency as part of benign prostate enlargement. When urination occurs during the night it is called nocturia. Nocturia may also be part of medical problems such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or heart failure. It may also frequently occur as a side effect of taking diuretic blood pressure medications - sometimes called "water pills" - including furosemine or Lasix.

Aside from the role of aging, these medical conditions, and the side effects of medications, there are some causes of nighttime urination that can be controlled. Drinking an excessive amount of water before going to bed will increase the likelihood of nighttime awakenings to pee. This is especially true if these liquids are consumed in the 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine, which works as a stimulant, is also a mild diuretic that can increase urination. By reducing fluid intake before bed, you may decrease the trips to the bathroom in the night.

Finally, it is important to treat sleep apnea as this can also lead to nocturia. There are two major reasons for this. Sleep apnea leads to the fragmentation of sleep. Deeper stages of sleep are disrupted by the breathing disruption and the affected person spends more time in light sleep. In these lighter stages, there is more awareness of how full the bladder is. In addition, research suggests that sleep apnea itself triggers the release of hormones that increase urination at night.

If you do wake during the night to pee, you should try to minimize the amount of light that you expose yourself to during the night. By using a small nightlight, you may make it easier to fall back asleep. You should also limit your activities; make a quick trip to the bathroom and return promptly to bed. Don't wander around the house, get a snack or drink, or get distracted by other tasks.

If you find yourself getting up during the night to pee, there are certain changes that you can make to decrease the frequency and degree of waking. If you have sleep apnea or a medical condition, speaking with your doctor may provide some relief. By decreasing the frequency of trips to the bathroom to pee, you can sleep better.

Check out the entire series, "How to Sleep Better in 30 Days."

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January 20, 2014 at 12:16 am
(1) Suzy says:

I had to go to a Urologist b/c I was getting up so many times per night to pee. It was affecting my sleep and my moods.

She was concerned b/c at that time in 2012, I was still a cigarette smoker (I quit on June 4, 2013), and I didn’t know that smoking was the leading cause for urinary cancer. She did a scope procedure and everything was fine. I’m just getting older. She gave me some medication and I don’t think I’ve been up in the middle of the night to pee in almost 2 years! However, when I wake up in the morning, that’s a different story! lol.

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