Learning to control when we go to the bathroom is something everyone has to learn. The good news is, once we learn how to do it, our bodies naturally handle most of the work. This is especially true when we sleep.  

Throughout the day, the average person has to go to the bathroom every few hours. When we sleep, however, we can go seven or more hours without having to use the bathroom. At least, if everything is operating as it should. 

Obviously, you can’t willingly contract your muscles to hold urine while you sleepIs your body holding it for you? Or is something else happening? Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on when you go to bed. 

Why You Don’t Have to Urinate When You Sleep 

The reason why most people aren’t visiting the bathroom multiple times a night is because our bodies produce less urine when we sleep. In addition to filtering your blood stream, your kidneys are responsible for balancing the amount of water in your bodies. They do this by filtering water back into the body or filtering it out to the bladder to create urine. 

These kidney functions are controlled by a part of your brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus creates a hormone called vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which tells your kidneys what to do with the liquid its filtering. When the hypothalamus is activating ADH, your kidneys reabsorb water and keep it running through your system to prevent dehydration. When it’s deactivated, your kidneys let the water pass and become urine. 

When you sleep, your body increases its production of ADH, signaling to your kidneys to keep absorbing and recycling water and preventing the creation of urine. Mostly. Some water does still pass through to the bladder, slowly filling it up. This, along with the suppression of ADH as you wake up is why most people have to urinate first thing in the morning. 

However, many people find themselves still having to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night.  

Why Do I Pee In the Middle of the Night? 

The need to pee throughout the night is known as nocturia. This isn’t a specific condition, but rather a blanket term used to describe the situation. It’s more common than many realize. Even people in their 20s and 30s struggle with having to urinate in the middle of the night. Approximately 10% of people over the age of 20 have to urinate two or more times per night. The percentage increases as people become older. 

The exact reasons for this can vary, though it typically comes down to a disruption between the brain and your kidneys and/or bladder. Certain substances such as caffeine and alcohol suppress the responsiveness of ADH, which results in your kidneys passing fluids to the bladder. This is why you typically have to urinate more frequently when drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.  

These substances can also affect your quality of sleep, reducing the creation of ADH, resulting in additional trips to the bathroom. Sleeping disorders can have a similar effect. 

Other conditions that can cause you to urinate throughout the night include UTIs, prostate conditions, overactive bladder, kidney infections, pregnancy, and more. Many of these come from increased pressure on your bladder or disruption to kidney functions. 

Nocturia is Not Normal 

Whatever the cause of your nightly bathroom visits might be, it’s important to understand that nocturia is not “normal” regardless of your age. It is a sign of something being off in your body, and it’s important that you figure out the cause so that you can treat the underlying issue. 

Thankfully, there are a number of treatment options available for the various causes of nocturia. Before you know the options, however, you need to know the cause. This is where a urologist can help. A urologist can accurately diagnose the source of your issues and provide treatment options from there.  

For urology in Dayton, Ohio and the surrounding areas, contact Urology Specialists of Ohio today!