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What Is Nocturia?


Updated March 21, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is Nocturia?
If you wake during the night to pee, you may be interested in learning about the cause of this occurrence. What is nocturia? What are some of the potential causes? Why is it more common as we get older?

Nocturia is defined as the excessive need to get up and urinate during the night. You may find yourself using the bathroom several times per night and this can be disruptive to your sleep. It is different from enuresis (or bedwetting).

There are a handful of frequent causes of nocturia. The most common may be drinking too much water or other fluids too close to bedtime. Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption also may contribute.

Normally our bodies are able to concentrate our urine and allow us to sleep through the night without getting up, but as we get older this may not work as well. In addition, older men may have nocturia as the result of retaining urine due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Inflammation or infection of the bladder or urinary tract may lead to increased urination overnight. Other major medical problems also may contribute, including:

There are a number of medications that may cause nocturia. The most common are the diuretic medications that are used to treat high blood pressure or swelling. One example would be furosemide (Lasix). Others medications that might cause nocturia are:

  • Demeclocycline
  • Lithium
  • Methoxyflurane
  • Phenytoin
  • Propoxyphene

Finally, there are some sleep disorders that might also cause nocturia. Obstructive sleep apnea is well known to contribute to frequent nighttime urination. This may be because sleep apnea results in light sleep, leading to an awareness of bladder fullness, as well as hormonal changes that may also contribute to frequent peeing at night.

If you have trouble waking too often during the night to pee, you may want to speak with your doctor to investigate what the underlying cause might be for you.


Dugdale, DC. "Urination – excessive at night." MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health, accessed December 2011.

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