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Nocturia is when a person has to wake up more than once a night to pass urine. It's a common problem that can get worse as a person gets older.

Nocturia can:

  • interrupt sleep
  • be the cause of falls when getting up at night
  • affect how a person manages through the day because they don't get enough sleep at night.

Common causes of nocturia

Nocturia can be caused by:

  • common medical conditions:
    • heart problems
    • kidney problems
    • poorly controlled diabetes
    • swollen ankles
    • bladder infections
    • an enlarged prostate
    • constipation, as a full bowel can press on the bladder
  • taking diuretics (fluid tablets) in the evening or at night
  • an overactive bladder
  • pregnancy, especially as the baby gets bigger and pushes on the bladder
  • changing positions from upright in the day to lying flat at night. This causes more blood to flow through the kidneys which then produce more urine at night.
  • drinking large amounts of fluid before going to bed at night
  • drinking alcohol or caffeine drinks, such as coffee, chocolate, cola or sports drinks, before going to bed at night.

Treatment for nocturia

If the person you support has nocturia regularly, they should see their general practitioner (GP) or other health care professional. They will ask about:

  • their health conditions
  • their bladder and bowel habits
  • any medicines they take and when they take them
  • how well they sleep at night
  • any bladder and bowel problems.

The health care professional may also:

How can you help?

You can help someone manage nocturia by:

  • reducing the amount of caffeine and alcohol drunk in the evening
  • looking at the time of the day diuretics (fluid tablets) are taken - early in the day may be better
  • recommending support stockings to reduce swollen ankles
  • putting their legs up for a few hours in the afternoon or evening to reduce fluid retention
  • looking at bowel management plans to reduce constipation
  • installing a night light
  • suggesting a commode or urinal next to the bed to reduce the risk of falls
  • making sure they are taking any medicines prescribed by their GP to treat their nocturia or the underlying cause of the problem
  • getting referrals for other medical specialists, such as a geriatrician, a urogynaecologist, a urologist or a renal physician
  • getting referrals for other health care professionals, such as a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, a dietitian or a continence nurse advisor.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

Extra Resources

Take the Quiz

Question 1

The effects of nocturia:

should be ignored because it's a common problem

can interrupt sleep and be a major cause of falls

means the person should sleep more during the day

can be treated by reducing the amount of water drunk during the day.

Question 2

Nocturia is commonly caused by:

staying up late at night

being overweight

people relying on pads

medical problems such as diabetes, constipation, heart or kidney problems.

Question 3

A health care professional may ask a person with nocturia:

about their medical problems

to keep a bladder or bowel diary

about their medicines

all of the above.

Question 4

Treatment and management for nocturia can include:

stopping all fluid tablets

sitting all day with legs elevated

having naps during the day

reducing the amount of caffeine and alcohol drunk in the evening.

This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.