Causes of Frequent Urination at Night (Nocturia)

The trigger could be a medical condition, a lifestyle factor, or something else

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If you are waking up at night with frequent urination, you are experiencing something called "nocturia." This symptom has many potential causes, so take a look at this list below to find out what may be causing your sudden trips to the bathroom—and then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the symptom. 

Lifestyle Causes

Drinking a lot of beverages—especially those that contain high amounts of caffeine (such as coffee, tea, or soda) or alcoholic beverages late in the day—may contribute to a need to urinate during the night.

If you lay off those fluids or stick to drinking them earlier in the day, you may reduce or eliminate the problem. 

In early pregnancy, women often feel the need to urinate at night because of rising progesterone levels. So ladies, keep in mind that it could be a sign that you're pregnant.  

Medications

Some medications may affect your bladder, increasing the need to urinate, such as diuretics and cold medicines.

Acute (Temporary) Medical Conditions

Having an acute and severe urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause some people to urinate more frequently at night. Other symptoms of a UTI include a burning sensation when urinating, passing small amounts of urine at a time, cloudy urine, bloody urine (that would appear pink, red, or dark brown), strong-smelling urine, pelvic pain. 

Having bladder stones lodged in the urinary tract, creating a blockage in the ureters or bladder, can also lead to more frequent urination while you're trying to sleep.

The symptoms of this are very similar to those of a UTI (listed above), except that you may also have trouble urinating or you may experience an interrupted flow of urine when you go to the bathroom.

Chronic (Long-lasting) Medical Conditions

Patients who have congestive heart failure may experience swelling in their legs and ankles during the day.

Upon lying down in bed at night, the fluid is redistributed and the kidneys produce more urine. Heart disease, vascular disorders, diabetes, high blood pressurerestless leg syndrome, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and sleep apnea also often result in frequent urination at night.

Childhood Medical Conditions

Among kids, frequent urination at night can be a sign of a urinary tract infection or juvenile diabetes. Girls who don't wipe correctly (advise them to wipe from the front to the back) can develop inflammation in the urinary tract area. In boys, an infection near the tip of the penis may lead to more frequent urination.

Common Risk Factors for Frequent Urination

The most commonly associated risk factors for developing frequent urination at night are:

  • Getting older. As people age, they experience a more frequent need to urinate.
  • Bladder prolapse and pelvic organ prolapse in women, particularly after pregnancy, put additional pressure on the urinary tract, making women wake up during the night to urinate.
  • Interstitial cystitis and radiation cystitis can make it difficult for your bladder to function normally because your bladder is inflamed.
  • Prostate problems in men can make it harder to hold urine.

    Sources

    McAninch JW. Symptoms of disorders of the urinary tract. In: Tanagho EA, McAninch JW. Smith's General Urology. 17th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

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