Nocturia is the need to get up several times a night to urinate and can have many causes. Even when these are relatively benign, it can still be a challenging condition because it interferes with getting an appropriate amount of sleep at night. People who frequently need to urinate during their regular sleep hours often get less deep sleep than they should, and may exhibit sleepiness or exhaustion during the day.
Normally, when we sleep at night our urine becomes more concentrated, enabling us to sleep for a six to eight hour stretch without the bladder feeling uncomfortably full. When the bladder feels full, this signals the brain to wake up. Nocturia be a result in people and children who have had bed-wetting issues in the past. The fear of accidentally wetting the bed may cause the person to be hypersensitive to any sense of fullness in the bladder.
Sometimes the causes of nocturia are simple and easy to treat. Drinking a lot of liquids prior to bed can result in the occasional case. This may be resolved by abstaining from liquids a few hours before bedtime, and especially by avoiding intake of alcohol or caffeine.
Certain medications may result in nocturia, too. Diuretics, which help the body shed excess fluids, are a direct cause of the condition. This may be addressed by taking diuretics at different times of the day. Other medications, like those for cardiac conditions and bipolar disorder may need to be taken at specific times of the day. The importance of these medications generally outweighs the side effects of nocturia.
Nocturia may be symptomatic of certain illnesses or conditions. A bladder or kidney infection can easily cause transient nocturia, but is usually resolved through treatment with antibiotics. Both early and late pregnancy result in more frequent urination, and are naturally resolved when the pregnancy is over. Enlargement of the prostate gland translates to more frequent cases of nocturia. At other times, nocturia indicates serious health conditions including diabetes, congestive heart failure, prostate cancer, or kidney failure.
Another serious cause of nocturia is sleep apnea. This is when a person stops breathing for several seconds, several times a night. This may translate to lighter sleep patterns and more of a sense that you should get up and use the bathroom.
Since nocturia can indicate some serious conditions, it is important to report nocturia to your physician. Sometimes the cause is easily treated, but at other times, the condition may indicate significant health risks. Further, even the most benign cause may still prove dangerous when it translates to exhaustion or sleepiness during the day. Lack of sleep is considered a high risk factor for accidents on the job and while driving.