Why You Should Rethink Your Late Night Bathroom Trips

by Brianna Flaherty | 01/16/19

Most doctors say that, in an ideal world, we should be sleeping six to eight hours a night without interruption (to which I say: whoops). In the real world, Penn Medicine recently reported that ~25% of Americans develop insomnia every year (thank you, smartphones), so we’re still a ways off from living our healthiest, most rested lives. But, no matter your sleep habits, if you’re waking up because you need to go to the bathroom two or more times in the middle of the night, your symptoms clinically qualify as nocturia.

A medical condition that affects an estimated 1 in 3 adults, nocturia refers to frequent, late night trips to the bathroom that disrupt a person’s sleep cycle. Depending on how you think of it, nocturia can seem like no big deal, or like the most irritating, disruptive medical condition of your life. If the latter sounds like you, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s totally treatable— and often without adding another prescription to your medicine cabinet.

Identifying nocturia signs and symptoms

The National Association for Continence says that, contrary to common perception, nocturia affects adults of *all* agesbut nocturia causes can vary pretty widely person to person. Many triggers (including underlying medical conditions) go unnoticed until they start to dramatically impact your sleep or you develop more symptoms. Some common causes include:

  • Drinking fluids right before bedtime. Overfilling your bladder before bed is an easy recipe for waking up a few hours later.
  • Eating or drinking bladder irritants. Fluids like caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks can act as diuretics, making your bladder feel full faster.
  • Diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Interstitial cystitis and other pelvic health conditions.
  • Insomnia. If you’re already having issues sleeping through the night, chances are you’re taking bathroom trips here and there to pass the time, which can eventually condition your bod to think you need to go, even if your bladder isn’t really full yet.
  • Restless leg syndrome, and any syndrome that keeps your bod from staying truly at rest when you’re in bed.

A few bathroom trips here and there might seem like nothing, but nocturia can be an early sign of a medical condition that's gone untreated. What’s more, over time it can have more serious side effects than occasional sleep disruption, including full-blown insomnia. No need to panic, but if you’re already waking up in the middle of the night because you need to go, it’s good to note whether your bathroom breaks start to disrupt your sleep cycle a little *too* much.

~Natural~ treatments for nocturia

Unlike 99.9% of things you can be diagnosed with, nocturia *isn’t* a condition that always has a guaranteed prescription answer, but it *is* treatable. Like many other pelvic health conditions, treatment often comes down to making some lifestyle changes for the betterment of your bod. For starters:

  • Avoid bladder irritants, especially before bed. There are many common irritants, and some aren’t as obvious as you’d think.
  • Be conscious of your fluid intake, without going overboard with restriction! A dehydrated bladder can actually start spasming in the middle of the night, which is one common explanation for nocturia. It’s all about finding a balance.
  • Learn your triggers. In addition to monitoring what and how often you drink, make note of any other triggers that leave you jogging to the bathroom during the day, or waking up in the middle of the night needing to go. The more you know, the better you can set yourself up for a restful night’s sleep.
    • Talk to a health professional. This is particularly true if you think an underlying condition might be triggering your nocturia symptoms. Even if you’re fairly certain it’s just a habit you’ve formed, it never hurts to back that feeling up with facts. No matter the cause of nocturia symptoms, your doctor can help you determine the best course of action for getting back to an uninterrupted night’s sleep. 

    Are you a restless sleeper? What are your favorite ~natural~ home remedies for a good night’s sleep?

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