Nocturia: Is it Nighttime Incontinence?

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • This week I gave a presentation on incontinence at a retirement home, and afterwards I stuck around to answer questions as I always do. Overwhelmingly, the questions had to do with nocturia, so I thought I'd devote this SharePost to discussing this condition. Nocturia is a condition in which you have to wake up several times during the night to urinate. This isn't necessarily incontinence, as you aren't actually leaking urine if you wake up and make it to the toilet in time, but obviously waking up several times throughout the night to empty your bladder can be bothersome at best.


    Nocturia affects older individuals more than younger adults, and can affect both men and women, often affecting overall quality of life by impeding on sleep habits. Men often experience nocturia as the result of a prostate problem. Women can experience nocturia due to childbirth and menopause.

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    Both men and women can experience nocturia due to chronic urinary tract infections or diabetes. If you're waking up two or more times at night to urinate, it's important to see a doctor, as it may be a sign of kidney problems, infection, or a prostate problem. In addition to ruling out other health problems, it's important to see a doctor as they may be able to help you find a treatment for your nocturia so that your quality of life won't be compromised.


    In many cases, nocturia can be managed or treated with simple behavioral changes, such as cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, and limiting liquids before bedtime (always talk to your doctor before you cut down your liquids). Some medications can also cause nocturia, and sometimes simply adjusting the time of day when the medication is taken can help the problem.


    The big question with nocturia is: How much is too much? Well, only you can answer that. Some people I talked to said they get up twice a night and that's way too much. Others are getting up every two hours and are say that it is "starting to bother" them. I again recommend that you mention this to your doctor if you are getting up two or more times per night, just so they are aware of it and can test you further if they feel it is necessary. But deciding when nocturia is truly a problem is really up to you. Could the sleep disruption be causing memory issues or a lapse of judgment during the day? Are you still safe to drive? Do you have the energy level that you want during the day? Having your sleep constantly disrupted may lead to some of these problems, and if it does, it's probably time to start looking for some relief.

Published On: September 04, 2007