What is nocturia?

Nocturia is a condition in which you wake up during the night because you have to urinate. This condition becomes more common as people age and occurs in both men and women, sometimes for different reasons.

What are the causes of nocturia?

There are many possible causes of nocturia, depending on the type:

Causes of polyuria

  • High fluid intake
  • Untreated diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Diabetes insipidus, gestational diabetes (occurs during pregnancy)

Causes of nocturnal polyuria

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Edema of lower extremities (swelling of the legs)
  • Sleeping disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (breathing is interrupted or stops many times during sleep)
  • Certain drugs, including diuretics (water pills), cardiac glycosides, demeclocycline, lithium, methoxyflurane, phenytoin, propoxyphene, and excessive vitamin D
  • Drinking too much fluid before bedtime, especially coffee, caffeinated beverages, or alcohol

Causes of low nocturnal bladder capacity

  • Bladder obstruction
  • Bladder overactivity
  • Bladder infection or recurrent urinary tract infection
  • Bladder inflammation (swelling)
  • Interstitial cystitis (pain in the bladder)
  • Bladder malignancy
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (men), a non-cancerous overgrowth of the prostate that obstructs the flow of urine

Possible causes of mixed nocturia

Any of the possible causes listed under nocturnal polyuria and low nocturnal bladder capacity

What are the symptoms of nocturia?

Normally, you should be able to sleep six to eight hours during the night without having to get up to go to the bathroom. People who have nocturia wake up more than once a night to urinate. This can cause disruptions in a normal sleep cycle.

Nocturia may result from several different causes:

  • You produce a great deal of urine (more than 2 liters) a day (polyuria)
  • Your body produces a large volume of urine while you sleep (nocturnal polyuria)
  • You produce more urine at night than your bladder is able to hold (low nocturnal bladder capacity). This causes you to wake up at night because you need to empty your bladder.
  • A combination of nocturnal polyuria and low nocturnal bladder capacity (mixed nocturia)
  • Poor sleep: Some people who have poor sleep and awaken frequently will go to the bathroom whenever they awaken. Typically in these cases, it is not the need to void that awakens them.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2013.


  • National Association for Continence. Nocturia. Accessed 2/23/2016.
  • Marinkovic SP, Gillen LM, Stanton SL. BMJ 2004;328:1063. Managing nocturia. Accessed 2/23/2016.

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