Nocturia – or Bladder Weakness during the Night

The urge to urinate during the night is something most of us can relate to, especially as we age, during pregnancy or if we enjoy drinking right before going to bed. For some people, these things can also lead to night time leakage.

There are many reasons for frequent toilet visits at night (nocturia) and there are things you can do to reduce the urge to urinate. You can for example change your daily routine to improve your sleep or make some changes in what you drink and at what time.

What causes bladder weakness during the night?

As we grow older, our bodies change and we naturally need to go to the toilet more often than before. Having to go once or twice during the night is, in other words, normal. There are several different causes for this. A younger person's bladder can hold up to 17 fl oz of urine, but as we age, this is normally reduced by about half as the bladder muscle becomes less elastic. Another reason for a more pressing urge to urinate as we age, is that our ability to concentrate urine decreases. The total amount of urine produced day and night doesn´t necessarily change, but often more is produced at night.

There are also lifestyle-related behaviours that can affect how much you urinate, like drinking large amounts of liquid. Caffeine and alcohol after dinner can also lead to a need to urinate at night.

Medical conditions related to nocturia

There are both medical conditions and medicines that can cause and increase night time urination. If you suspect that there is an underlying health condition, or that your medicine is causing night time urination, contact your physician. Sometimes, a simple change in when you take your medicine can help reduce the side effects.

Some medicines and diagnoses connected to nocturia:

  • Heart and kidney disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Diuretic medicines
  • Urge urinary incontinence

Insomnia can cause nocturia and nightly urine leakage

More urine is normally produced during our time awake, which means that persons with an illness that keeps them awake needs to visit the toilet more frequently during night. There are many chronic medical conditions, for instance restless legs, sleep apnea, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease that can cause insomnia. Many chronic illnesses also cause discomfort or pain, so treating any underlying medical disorders and delivering proper pain management will benefit sleep and reduce urine production at night.

What can I do to reduce nightly visits to the toilet?

Reducing the amount of times you need to go to the toilet can increase the general wellbeing, and help giving you a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few things that can help:

  • Avoid drinking coffee, tea and alcohol before bedtime
  • Make sure to go to the toilet before going to bed
  • Try to limit your fluid intake two hours before bedtime
  • If you have swollen legs, the use of compression stockings and afternoon leg elevation can reduce night-time urination since it helps the body handle the fluid stuck in the legs
  • Waking up in the middle of the night can trigger the need to go. If you suffer from insomnia or sleeping problems, nocturia can be reduced if these problems are overcome
  • Use a night time incontinence pad if you experience leaks during the night

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