Illustration of a lady sitting up in bed looking uncomfortable with a thought balloon showing an image of a toiletNocturia

It's World Sleep Day on Friday 17 March and this year's theme is sleep is essential for health, but how many times do you get up to the toilet in the night?

Waking in the night to pass urine (have a wee) is a common problem that tends to increase with age.
The medical term for this is Nocturia.

Nocturia explained

Under the age of 50, more women than men have nocturia; however, after 60 years of age, this changes to more men than women.

Approximately half of adults between the ages of 50 to 79 have nocturia. This tends to be just an occasional problem for those aged 50 to 59 years but for men aged between 70 and 79, most get up at least twice a night.

Why do I have to get up so often?

Nocturia is a common symptom rather than a disease.

It could be a result of lifestyle habits - such as drinking too much before bedtime, especially if you drink caffeine or alcohol, or it could be caused by the dose or time of any medication you take.

However, if you find the urge to pass urine is waking you up two or more times nightly, it may be a sign of something else going on in your body. Underlying health conditions that have been associated with nocturia include[1]:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Bladder infection
  • Uterine prolapse
  • Hysterectomy
  • Menopause
  • Prostatitis
  • Prostate and bladder cancers
[1] Nocturia: Clinical presentation, evaluation, and management in September 2022

How might nocturia affect my life?

We understand that nocturia can really affect your quality of life in a number of ways:

  • You may feel exhausted by having broken sleep night after night.
  • Getting up suddenly at night in the dark can increase the risk of falls.
  • You may have to wake someone else at night to assist you to use the toilet and this can affect your relationships.
  • You may be worried about how it will impact on your future independence as you age.

But don’t worry there are things you can do and we are here to help.

What can I do and where can I get support?

It may be helpful to keep a 'bladder diary' to track the number of times you wake for a wee in the night-  make a note of how many times you get up to go and  how much urine you pass when you do go (a little bit or a lot).

Don’t suffer in silence - Talk to us. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to us about your problem – we have a specialist Continence Adviser Helen Wall, who is a very experienced and qualified continence nurse. You can call us on 01480 474074 or email and ask for a referral to her, or you can talk to one of the Trust Medical Advisers.

We can support you with lifestyle changes to improve or cure your symptoms and give you advice on how to manage it – there are lots of different treatment options.

Top tips

It is important that you seek advice to find the cause of the issue. Nocturia can be an indication of menopausal changes, an enlarged prostate gland, diabetes or other diseases.

Remember to drink plenty of fluids during the day. However, you may wish to restrict your fluid intake at night: approximately 2-4 hrs before you go to bed to sleep.

Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine which are irritants to the bladder, as are some food such as spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners often found in diet fizzy drinks.


Further information

If you have any other urinary or bowel incontinence problems support is available from the Trust. Call us on 01480 474074.

You can also find more information on our website and bladder health organisations below.

Bladder issues

man holding his hands crossed in front of the top of his legs indicating that he needs the toilet

Information on common bladder problems and where to get support

Read more

Sleep awareness

Dog fast asleep under a blanket with a toy dog between his paws

How to get a better night’s sleep and issues that may affect you

Learn more

Bladder Health UK

Bladder Health UK logo

More about nocturia, treatments and what you can do to help yourself

Visit the Bladder Health UK website