Nocturia, or nocturnal polyuria, is the medical term for excessive urination at night. During sleep time, your body produces less urine that is more concentrated. This means that most people don’t need to wake up during the night to urinate and can sleep uninterrupted for 6 to 8 hours.

If you need to wake up two times or more per night to urinate, you may have nocturia. Besides being disruptive to your sleep, nocturia can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition.


Causes of nocturia range from lifestyle choices to medical conditions. Nocturia is more common among older adults, but it can occur at any age.

Medical conditions

A variety of medical conditions can cause nocturia. Common causes of nocturia are a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection. These infections cause frequent burning sensations and urgent urination throughout the day and night. Treatment requires antibiotics.

Other medical conditions that can cause nocturia include:

  • infection or enlargement of the prostate
  • bladder prolapse
  • overactive bladder (OAB)
  • tumors of the bladder, prostate, or pelvic area
  • diabetes
  • anxiety
  • kidney infection
  • edema or swelling of the lower legs
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord compression

Nocturia is also common in people with organ failure, such as heart or liver failure.


Nocturia can be an early symptom of pregnancy. This can develop at the beginning of pregnancy, but it also happens later, when the growing womb presses against the bladder.


Some medications may cause nocturia as a side effect. This is particularly true of diuretics (water pills), which are prescribed to treat high blood pressure.

You should seek emergency medical care from a doctor if you lose the ability to urinate or if you can no longer control your urination.

Lifestyle choices

Another common cause of nocturia is excessive fluid consumption. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which means that drinking them causes your body to produce more urine. Consuming alcohol or caffeinated beverages in excess can lead to nighttime waking and needing to urinate.

Other people who have nocturia have simply developed a habit of waking up during the night to urinate.

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