We’ve all been there: a groggy, middle-of-the-night realisation that, ugh, it’s time to pee again. While sometimes this is the result of a medical condition, often it’s just an inconvenient routine. In that case, there are a few simple fixes that can make nighttime bathroom breaks a lot less common.
But first, that caveat about medical issues. Definitely see a healthcare professional if you’re concerned about your sleep or your bladder. Sometimes, waking to pee (“nocturia,” they call it) happens because you’re peeing too much all the time. This can have a variety of causes, from common ones like a urinary tract infection to some serious ones like diabetes or heart failure.
On the flip side, you may be waking up because of other issues that are impacting your sleep, and then once you’re awake your brain says, welp, might as well use this time to take a trip to the bathroom. In those cases, the peeing isn’t the issue, so please seek medical help if something seems wrong. Otherwise, these tips might help:
Hydrate earlier in the day
Often we aren’t too thirsty in the morning, and maybe we’re too busy during the day to drink very much. If you find yourself drinking most of your fluids in the evening, that’s setting you up to go to bed with a full bladder. The fix here is easy: drink water earlier in the day, so you don’t find yourself filling up right before bed.
(If you chase a hydration target during the day — aiming for eight glasses, say — reconsider whether that amount of water is actually helping you. Many of us don’t need as much extra water as we think, so experiment with reducing that number to see if it helps.)
Notice we’re just changing the timing of how much we drink, not cutting water off and dehydrating ourselves. Being dehydrated can also make it hard to get comfortable at night, the Sleep Foundation notes, due to distractions like dry mouth or headaches.
Don’t drink right before bed
If you’ve hydrated throughout the day, it should be no problem to stop drinking liquids an hour or two before bed. This includes caffeine, for obvious reasons: you don’t want it to keep you awake. While caffeine is infamous for its diuretic effect (making you pee), if you’re habituated to it, the effect is pretty minimal.
And you shouldn’t have alcohol before bed if you can help it. Alcohol is definitely a diuretic, and it’s also known to disrupt sleep.
Elevate your legs
The Sleep foundation also suggests you try elevating your legs for a few hours before bed, because your body can reabsorb some of the water from your legs when you’re lying down. This can just mean sitting on the couch with your legs up; you don’t have to do a headstand. Work some quality lounging into your bedtime routine.
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Make it easy to get back to sleep
Occasional bathroom trips will still happen despite our best efforts. Sometimes the problem isn’t that you had to get up, but rather that it’s hard to get back to sleep afterward.
So, do your best to make your bedroom an easy place to sleep. Use blackout curtains to keep your bedroom dark, or use a sleep mask, which is just a blackout curtain for your eyeballs. Earplugs or a white noise machine can help if noise tends to bother you. And whatever you do, do not check your phone just because you’re awake.
Consider adjusting the temperature of your house at night, since most of us find it easier to sleep in slightly cooler temperatures. Set up a nightlight or keep a small, dim flashlight by your bed so you don’t have to turn on any lights. (There are even toilet seats with a built-in nightlight for exactly this reason.)