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A UTI is a urinary tract infection. It can be an infection in any part of your urinary system, including your bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters.

Some of the common symptoms that can make it difficult to sleep at night include:

Keep reading to learn about medical treatments and home remedies you can use to relieve nighttime UTI symptoms.

A UTI is an infection of any location along the urinary tract, but when most people say UTI, they’re usually referring to a bladder infection. UTIs are more common in folks assigned female at birth, because of the setup of anatomy.

S. Adam Ramin, MD, urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles, explained that the “bladder and its tubing, the urethra, sit directly along the length of the vagina. Urine exits the body through this very short tube, and the opening of the urethra is a tiny hole right above the entrance into the vagina.”

This positioning makes it super easy for bacteria to travel along the urinary tract.

During vaginal intercourse, bacteria from the vagina and rectum can easily move into the urethra and the bladder, causing a urinary tract infection, Ramin added.

Hormonal change is another cause of UTIs, though it’s less common. Karyn Eilber, MD, a board certified urologist and an associate professor of urology & OB-GYN at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, said some people experience UTIs at certain times of the month.

“Cyclical hormone changes related to the menstrual cycle can influence the vaginal pH. The vaginal pH is acidic which is conducive to the ‘good’ bacteria,” Eilber said. “At certain times of the month (or because of perimenopause or menopause), the pH can become less acidic so that there is an imbalance in a woman’s microbiome and she can be more prone to UTIs.”

For most healthy, hydrated people, peeing should be pain-free and urine output should be nearly odorless, or in some cases should only have a slight scent of ammonia to it. If that’s not the case, an infection might be present. Here are a few common signs of a UTI to look out for:

Urgent and frequent urination

A UTI can cause inflammation and irritation of the bladder lining, making it more sensitive. This results in more urinary urgency and frequency of urination. You might also notice that despite having an urgent need to pee, the output is minimal or nonexistent.

Burning or pain while peeing

Dysuria, or burning with urination, is also a common symptom. Pain due to a UTI usually occurs with urination, but pain or burning not related to urination may be indicative of a vaginal infection or something else, Eilber said.

Smelly or cloudy urine

Ramin said that sometimes, one of the early signs of an impending UTI is a distinctly unusual smell or cloudy appearance of your urine. If you suddenly notice a foul or otherwise unusual smell to it, this may indicate a urinary tract infection or urinary stones, especially if the smell is also accompanied by a cloudy appearance.

Loss of control

You may also find you have less control over your bladder during a UTI episode. UTIs that have reached the kidneys can include the symptoms mentioned above and are frequently accompanied by back pain and fever.

To help your recovery, you need to rest. But it can be difficult to sleep with some of the uncomfortable symptoms that may accompany a UTI.

Here are some things you can do at home to help you sleep comfortably:

  • Drink plenty of water during the day to help flush out bacteria.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks that contain caffeine or citrus juice. These tend to irritate your bladder and aggravate the urgency and frequency of your need to urinate.
  • Avoid drinking a lot of fluids before bed.
  • Use an incontinence pad or wear incontinence pants. These can lessen the concern of urinating in your sleep or give you the option of not getting out of bed to urinate.
  • Use a hot water bottle or heating pad to warm your abdomen to minimize bladder discomfort or pressure.
  • Completely empty your bladder before bed.
  • Take your antibiotics as instructed by your doctor.

If your doctor hasn’t prescribed pain medication and you feel it would help you sleep, ask them for a recommendation for either OTC or prescription pain medications.

The first step to relieving UTI discomfort at night is to see your doctor about knocking out the infection.

Stopping the infection

Based on your current health and the type of bacteria in your urine, your doctor might recommend antibiotic medication for a simple UTI, such as:

  • ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
  • cephalexin (Keflex)
  • fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin)
  • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)

If you have a complicated UTI or kidney infection, your doctor may prescribe a type of antibiotic called fluoroquinolones, such as levofloxacin (Levaquin) or ciprofloxacin (Cipro).

To reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance, you should receive the shortest treatment course possible. Effective treatment typically takes no more than 7 days.

There are also other medications available for treatment that are not antibiotic-based.

Relieving the pain

Within a few days of starting the antibiotic, you should notice a relief in discomfort, but your doctor may also suggest an analgesic (pain medication).

Antibiotics aren’t the only option and there are other prescription medications available to treat UTIs.

Many UTI analgesics include phenazopyridine for relief from the pain, itching, burning, and urinary urgency. It’s available in both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) forms.

Over-the-counter UTI medication

When it comes to treating UTIs with OTC options, you may want to skip it. Bladder infections are usually easy to treat with a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor and plenty of fluids. But if you’re looking for pain relief, Ramin recommends AZO.

“AZO is an effective OTC and one of the best over-the-counter bladder analgesics we have available to ease urinary pain. If taken in small doses, this is safe. Overdosing on AZO should always be avoided,” he said. “You can use AZO with or without antibiotics, but typically I recommend using it for 3 days.”

Experts also recommend drinking plenty of fluids, unsweetened cranberry juice, and taking probiotics. Just because there are OTC options to relieve UTI discomfort, you shouldn’t overlook the actual infection. In fact, Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, double board certified in OB-GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, doesn’t recommend taking the OTC route at all.

“I don’t recommend over-the-counter medications for urinary tract infections,” she said. “Untreated [or not properly treated], a common bladder infection can spread to the kidneys and potentially the entire body, resulting in pyelonephritis and urosepsis.”

Those who are pregnant are particularly susceptible to this, as bladder infections can be further progressive in nature.

According to Eilber, UTI pain and other symptoms aren’t worse at night. They are just more bothersome because people aren’t as distracted by their daily activities and the symptoms of frequency and urgency are forcing you to get out of bed.

UTI discomfort may also seem worse because you’re not emptying your bladder as much as you would during the day. The pressure from collecting urine then creates discomfort against the inflamed walls of your infected bladder.

To reduce your risk of getting a UTI, there are specific lifestyle steps you can take, including:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Drink cranberry juice.
  • Wipe from front to back after urinating and bowel movements.
  • Empty your bladder before and after sexual activity.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Avoid potentially irritating products, such as deodorant sprays, douches, and powders, in the genital area.
  • Change tampons regularly.
  • Switch your birth control method. Condoms and diaphragms can contribute to bacterial growth.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear and clothing.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, it’s best to see your doctor as soon as possible. For those who are pregnant, a UTI can be dangerous for both mother and child.

Your doctor will perform the necessary tests, like a urine culture, to figure out the primary bacteria responsible for your infection. They’ll then prescribe medication that is targeted for your specific needs.

Again, this isn’t something you want to ignore for too long because your UTI could get a lot worse. Ramin said, in rare cases, the bacteria could make its way to your kidneys, which makes the UTI more difficult to treat.

“In more serious cases of urinary tract infection, antibiotics may need to be administered intravenously and then followed by a course of oral antibiotics for several days to weeks,” he said.

UTI supplement options

Read our full review of Uqora, a company that focuses on developing natural supplements for UTI prevention.

How do you get rid of a UTI?

While it’s possible for some UTIs to clear up on their own, the best way to get rid of a UTI is by seeing your doctor.

How long do UTIs last?

According to Jordan Gitlin, MD, chief of pediatric urology at NYU Langone Hospital, a very minor infection will need treatment for about 5 to 7 days. For a more severe infection that goes up to the kidney or requires hospitalization, treatment lasts 10 to 14 days.

Why is UTI pain worse at night?

The pain and discomfort associated with UTIs aren’t worse at night, you’re just more aware of them. This is because you’re not distracted by your daily tasks and because you’re not emptying your bladder as much as you would during the day.

How should I sleep with UTI pain at night?

Here are some things you can do to help you sleep more comfortably at night, if you have UTI pain:

  • Make sure you empty your bladder completely before going to bed.
  • You may consider setting alarms during the night so you wake up and use the bathroom.
  • Use an incontinence pad or wear incontinence pants. These can lessen the concern of urinating in your sleep or give you the option of not getting out of bed to urinate.
  • Use a hot water bottle or heating pad to warm your abdomen to minimize bladder discomfort or pressure.

Some of the uncomfortable symptoms of a UTI can interfere with sleep.

Once your doctor has diagnosed and recommended treatment for your UTI, talk with them about steps you can take to make sleeping easier. They can recommend prescription or OTC pain medications. You can also try heating pads and hot water bottles.

Once you’ve recovered from your UTI, some ways you can avoid another one are to stay hydrated, take showers instead of baths, and wear cotton underwear.