What Are The Symptoms Of Nocturia Or Frequent Urination At Night?

Ever had a pleasant night’s sleep ruined because you had to make a quick dash to the bathroom? Does this happen often? If you find that your sleep is routinely interrupted due to a need to urinate, you may be experiencing nocturia, which may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Because sound sleep is so vital to our overall health, nocturia can greatly affect a person’s quality of life.

Symptoms Of Nocturia

Getting up in the middle of the night to urinate is normal if it occurs once in a while, but if you are experiencing this persistently and increasingly, you should seek medical advice. A healthy person should be able to sleep for six to eight hours without having to get up to use the bathroom. Those suffering from nocturia will typically wake up at least once to urinate. Patients with severe nocturia may get up five or six times during the night to go to the bathroom.


There are three main underlying reasons a person may be experiencing nocturia1 2:

  • Global Polyuria: Excessive urine production, to volumes greater than 40 mL/kg/24 hours.
  • Nocturnal Polyuria: Excessive urine production at night, but a relatively normal urine production during the day.3
  • Bladder Storage Disorders: Overactivity of the urinary bladder, causing frequent urination.

Prevalence Of Nocturia

Nocturia becomes more common as we age. Occasional nocturia is present in 50% of men and women aged 50 to 59 years old. Among 18- to 49-year-olds, women are more susceptible to nocturia than men; the opposite is true past age 60. 4 5


Triggers for Nocturia

Food Habits

Of course, your food habits have a profound effect on your overall health. The following substances could possibly trigger nocturia:

  • Caffeine can increase bladder activity, resulting in frequent urination.
  • Alcohol acts as a diuretic and may induce frequent urination.
  • Artificial sweeteners (e.g., sodium saccharine, aspartame, and acesulfame K) have been shown to negatively affect bladder function 6
  • Other common bladder irritants include: carbonated beverages (soda, seltzer water), tea, milk and milk products, honey, chocolate, tomatoes and tomato-based products, citrus juice and fruits, corn syrup, and highly spiced foods.

Eliminate or restrict one or all of these items to help improve your bladder control.


Lifestyle Changes

Simple behavioral changes can also help improve any nocturia symptoms.

  • Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Reduce your overall fluid intake. Keep track of (or even write down) how much liquid you are drinking, especially at night.
  • Start a weight-loss program if you are overweight or obese.


According to various studies, nocturia is found to be most common among older adults (above 60 years). This is because, as we age, the production of diuretic hormones typically decreases and the pelvis weakens. Both of these factors can make it difficult to hold urine. 7



Certain medications may affect the urinary system. Diuretic medication, excessive calcium supplements or antacids, cardiac glycosides, demeclocycline, lithium, methoxyflurane, phenytoin, propoxyphene, and excessive vitamin D may cause nocturia.

Nighttime Habits

Some people may have simply developed a habit of waking up during the night to urinate, which may be causing nocturia. If you’re aware of doing this, try to break the habit gradually.


Genetic Predisposition

Various research studies have found that certain genes can make you more susceptible to nocturia. These genes, combined with the various factors mentioned above, can increase the risk of urinary incontinence.8 9 10

Medical Conditions

Nocturia can sometimes be a symptom of another underlying medical condition that may need attention, including11 12

  • Kidney or bladder conditions, such as kidney stones, urinary tract or bladder infections, or an overactive bladder
  • Tumors of the bladder, prostate, or pelvic area
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Edema or swelling of the lower legs
  • Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart conditions, which can result in a weakened circulatory system
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

When And What Kind Of Doctor Should You Consult?

If there is a constant need to urinate in the night and it is severely affecting your day-to-day life, consult your general physician. They may refer you to a urologist, or, if they suspect you have sleep apnea, you may be referred to a sleep specialist or pulmonologist, a doctor who specializes in respiratory diseases.