Many people wake up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break (or two or three). According to recent data, 69% of men and 76% of women over 40 report going to the bathroom at least once per night. Additionally, one-third of adults over 30 reports making two or more nightly trips to the bathroom.
There is actually a term for this: nocturia. The technical definition for nocturia is when a person gets out of bed to urinate one or more times per night. By this standard, nocturia is widespread.
Many people, though, have no problem with one nightly trip to the bathroom. You get up, do what you have to do, get back in bed, and fall right back to sleep—no big deal. However, nocturia can become a problem when a person is making two or more trips to the bathroom or if they have difficulty going back to sleep.
Before we get to some practical solutions, it is important to note that while one trip to the bathroom may not seem like a problem or a big deal, it is still not ideal. Our bodies are designed to help us sleep through the night. If we are getting high-quality sleep, our bodies know to slow down our metabolism and bodily functions at night so that the urge to pee is not something that wakes us up.
Barring any bladder conditions or other considerations such as pregnancy or pelvic floor changes post-childbirth, most people should sleep through the night without any issues or urges to pee.
So why can we no longer hold it in all night? Did our bladders get smaller, or are we super hydrated these days? The answer probably has nothing to do with our bladders and a lot to do with our poor sleep hygiene.
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Most people today are simply not getting as much deep sleep anymore. So many of us spend our entire day in a constant state of stress and then spend a couple of hours before bedtime drinking an evening glass of wine and staring at a blue light-emitting screen bombarding us with stimulating information from all over the world. It is no wonder we aren’t getting a restful night of uninterrupted deep sleep anymore.
The key takeaway? Waking up to go to the bathroom once per night has become the new normal, even though it shouldn’t be. Nocturia might not be a problem if you wake up only once and can get right back to sleep. But if you wake up multiple times throughout the night or have trouble falling back to sleep, it might be time to make some changes to your bedtime routine.
Avoid big meals and alcoholic beverages at least two to three hours before bed. Reducing caffeine consumption after noon each day is also a good idea. And if you can’t avoid the TikTok and news headline doom-scrolling altogether, at the very least, save that addictive habit for the daylight hours. You don’t need to be a health expert to understand that it’s best not to read about how close we are to nuclear warfare right before going to bed.
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