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How to Stop Going to the Toilet At Night

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Mar 03, 2022

Needing to go to the bathroom multiple times during the night isn’t great for sleep quality.

This condition is called nocturia, and it can be caused by many different things, which makes it hard to diagnose.

There are a few things you can do to figure out if you’re simply overhydrating, or if there is something else that needs to be addressed.

How To Test If You’re Drinking Too Much Water

The most obvious cause of needing to wake up and urinate is drinking too much water.

While it’s important to be somewhat hydrated when going to bed, you don’t want to drink multiple cups of liquid in the hours leading up to sleep.

If you want to test this: Start a sleep and drinking diary and maintain it for at least a week.

Record every time that you drink during the day (or at least the evening), along with when you go to sleep, how often you wake up, and your subjective quality of sleep.

It’s also a good idea to write down any medication you take.

What you’re looking for is a clear correlation between the amount of liquid you drink and metrics for quality of sleep (e.g. number of times you wake up to go to the toilet).

Note that even if you are drinking too much, there could be another issue if you still wake up too often after cutting back on how much you drink at night.

Urinating At Night Isn’t Always Caused By Liquid

One thing to keep in mind is that just because you woke up and needed to urinate, doesn’t mean that’s why you woke up.

It’s normal to have some urge to go to the toilet even if you’re startled awake by something else.

One of the most common causes of nighttime awakenings is sleep apnea, which many people aren’t even aware that they have (1).

Sudden loud noises, lights, or even discomfort can also cause you to wake up.

Are You Drinking Coffee and Alcohol Before Bed?

Both coffee and alcohol are mild diuretics (2).

While you won’t become dehydrated from drinking coffee, the water in it also won’t have a significant positive effect on your hydration levels.

If you mainly drink coffee (or tea with caffeine in it), you may be more dehydrated on a regular basis than you thought.

In addition, coffee and alcohol both affect sleep quality. While one cup of coffee in the morning is typically fine, any more caffeine can cause insomnia symptoms, which may include waking up more frequently.

Could You Have a UTI?

While this isn’t particularly common, it’s worth mentioning.

A UTI can cause nocturia, although it’s usually a pretty obvious cause because UTIs typically cause pain in the abdominal region or even give you a fever (3).

If you think you might have a UTI, see a doctor.

Is It Your Age?

It’s somewhat expected to need to go to the toilet more at night as you age (within reason).

One study found a clear correlation between frequency of urinating at night and age, especially for those over 60 (4).

Some of this may be out of your control.

As we age, we produce less vasopressin (Antidiuretic hormone). One effect of this hormone is that it concentrates urine making you able to “hold it in” longer (5).

In addition, men can develop enlarged prostates and women have less estrogen after menopause. Both of these changes can make you more likely to urinate more often.

Sometimes these indicate more serious underlying problems, which is why it’s important to see a doctor if you’re waking up several times during the night to urinate.

Are You Taking Any Medication?

If you do happen to be taking medication, be aware that some medications do cause increased urination.

Again, consult your doctor about this and they will be able to determine if this medication is a potential cause of your problems and should be switched.

Other Causes Of Frequent Urination At Night

I’ve mentioned it multiple times so far in this post but I’d like to make it crystal clear: If you’re waking up several times a night to go to the bathroom and the cause isn’t obvious, see a doctor.

There are many other conditions that are very serious and can cause frequent urination as a side effect. This includes:

  • Bladder or prostate tumors
  • Diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Neurological diseases

It’s important to uncover any of these as soon as you can if you have one.

A doctor can help you diagnose your sleep problems and then give medication or refer you to a specialist if needed.

References

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Nocturia and Polyuria in Older Adults
  2. The standardisation of terminology in nocturia: report from the Standardisation Sub-committee of the International Continence Society
  3. Causes of frequency and nocturia after renal transplantation
  4. The Prevalence and Causes of Nocturia
  5. Aquaporins, Vasopressin, and Aging: Current Perspectives

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.