Nighttime urination can cause insomnia, but it can be a factor in more serious conditions as well. At worst, it could be a symptom of an enlarged prostate or diabetes. Even at its best, it can be frustrating and leave you fatigued.
There you are, having a pleasant night's sleep. Gradually a familiar pressure is building in your lower abdomen. When you awaken enough to make sense of the discomfort, you realize it's time for another trek to the bathroom -- your fourth since crawling into bed earlier that night. It's become routine, but should it be?
Nighttime trips to the bathroom may simply mean you consumed too much fluid in the evening. And, certainly, the need to urinate once during a night's sleep is not cause for concern. But needing to urinate two or more times every night requires investigation.
First of all, each trip to the bathroom means you have to wake up. Numerous trips each night, combined with the time it takes to return to sleep, may add up to a significant amount of lost sleep over time.
But more important than the loss of sleep, this pattern could signal a medical problem. Excessive urination at night (called nocturia) is a common symptom of several conditions, including diabetes. In men, an enlarged prostate gland (a problem that occurs in most men as they age) is very often the problem. An enlarged prostate can also be a warning sign of prostate cancer and should be evaluated promptly. In women, urinary tract infections frequently cause nocturia. Sleep apnea can also cause nocturia.
Drinking alcohol in the evening can be a factor in nocturia. And many prescription drugs have nocturia as a side effect. Because nocturia has so many causes, a doctor's evaluation is important. Afterward, your doctor may refer you to a urologist or other specialist.
If you have to use the bathroom at night, use only the minimum amount of light to navigate. Too much bright light may make it difficult to return to sleep. If getting up is a nightly occurrence for you, light the path to the bathroom with nightlights so you don't have to turn on any lights.
An enlarged prostate is one effect of growing older that may lead to insomnia. As people age, their reproductive systems change, too. The next page explains how these changes may cause you to lose sleep.