Excessive Urination at Night (Nocturia)

Written by Kati Blake | Published on July 30, 2012
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP

What Is Nocturia?

Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination at night. During the night, your body produces a decreased amount of urine that is more concentrated. This means that most people do not need to wake up to urinate and can sleep uninterrupted for six to eight hours.

If you need to wake up several times in the night to urinate, you may be suffering from excessive urination at night.

Causes of Nocturia

Causes of nocturia range from lifestyle choices to medical conditions.

The most common cause for nocturia is a urinary tract infection (UTI). This causes frequent burning and urgent urination throughout the day and night. The infection usually requires antibiotics to effectively treat it.

Another common cause of nocturia is excessive drinking—particularly drinks containing alcohol and caffeine. Consuming these substances in excess can lead to waking up and needing to urinate.

Some people have simply developed a habit of waking up during the night to urinate.

Medical Conditions

A variety of medical conditions causes nocturia. These include:

  • bladder prolapse
  • tumors of the bladder or prostate
  • any disorder affecting control of the sphincter

Nocturia is also common in people with organ failure—typically either heart or liver failure—and those who suffer from diabetes.


Nocturia can be an early symptom of pregnancy. This can develop at the beginning of pregnancy, but is more common later, when the womb presses on the bladder.

Sleep Apnea

Nocturia can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. This can occur even if the bladder is not full. Once the sleep apnea is controlled, the nocturia usually ends.


Some medications may cause nocturia as a side effect. This is particularly true of diuretics, which are prescribed to treat high blood pressure.

You should seek emergency medical care from a doctor if you lose the ability to urinate, or if you can no longer control urination.

Treatment for Nocturia Treatment

Diagnosing the cause of nocturia can be difficult. Your doctor will need to ask a variety of questions. It can be useful to maintain a diary for a few days, recording what you drink and how much, along with how often you go to the toilet.

Questions he or she may ask you include:

  • When did nocturia start?
  • How many times a night do you have to urinate?
  • Are you producing less urine than you did before?
  • Do you have accidents or have you wet the bed?
  • Does anything make the problem worse?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Do you have a family history of bladder problems or diabetes?

You may also undergo testing such as:

  • blood sugar test
  • blood urea test
  • urine culture
  • fluid deprivation test

If your nocturia is caused by a medication, your treatment times may be changed to reduce their impact at night.

Nocturia can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as diabetes or a UTI that could worsen or spread, if left untreated. Nocturia due to an underlying condition will usually stop when the condition is successfully treated.

Nocturia also disturbs the sleep cycle. If left untreated, it can lead to sleep deprivation, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, and depression.

Prevention of Nocturia

Nocturia can be prevented by:

  • reducing the amount you drink before going to bed
  • avoiding drinks containing alcohol and caffeine
  • urinating before bed
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