Nocturia: The Most Common Cause of a Poor Night’s Sleep

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  • Nocturia, the need to wake to urinate more than once in the night, is the most common cause of sleep disruption in adults of all ages.1,2
  • The condition is associated with loss of deep sleep, disruption of daytime functioning and reduced productivity and alertness.3,4,5
  • In rare cases, nocturia may also be a symptom of a serious health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.2

On World Sleep Day, scientists are highlighting the number one reason that people are waking up at night – nocturia (otherwise known as the need to get up and urinate more than once during the night).1,2 It often has one or more contributing factors such as an overproduction of urine, reduced bladder capacity; certain illnesses and medications are also potential contributors.2,6 Although it is most common in older adults, nocturia can affect people of all ages and frequent sleep disturbances significantly impact daily living and can be a sign of more serious health conditions.2,3,4,5

“Nocturia’s disruption to deep sleep results in reduced productivity and alertness that can affect multiple areas of an individual’s life during the day,” said Jens-Peter Nørgaard, Medical Director of Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Professor of Urology at Ghent University, Belgium. “From making it difficult to manage a busy daily schedule to negatively impacting productivity at work, sleep disruption has significant impact far beyond fatigue or night-time inconvenience.”

The effect that sleep disruption can have was measured recently in a study by Nokia Health, which designs smart health devices and apps. In the study sleep patterns were measured using Nokia sleep sensors and compared to self-reported quality of sleep. Of the over 19,000 people surveyed it was shown that frequency of nightly awakenings was the most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep – more than the total duration of sleep or the time people went to bed.7

Lack of sleep from nocturia can lead to impaired daytime functioning, as well as reduced productivity and alertness.3,4,5 These frequent sleep interruptions are important as uninterrupted sleep is needed to sustain physical (including the immune system), mental and emotional health.8

“People often ignore sleep disturbance from nocturia, but this can produce significant disruption to daytime functioning,” said Dr. Andrew Krystal, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at University of California, San Francisco. “It is important this is discussed with a healthcare professional, as this disruption is not just harmful in itself but can also be an indicator of more serious health conditions.”

Nocturia can also be a symptom of more serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.2 The impact of sleep disturbances can also lead to greater risk of serious health conditions such as increased risk of diabetes, weakened immune systems and heart disease.9 Similarly, individuals who suffer from chronic sleep disturbances experience reduced cognitive functioning, which can impact productivity, relationships and careers.8

1 Benefield LE. Facilitating Aging in Place: Safe, Sound, and Secure, An Issue of Nursing Clinics. 2014

2 National Association for Continence. Nocturia web page. Last accessed 2017.

3 Bliwise DL et al. J Clin Sleep Med 2015;11:53–5.

4 Bliwise DL et al. Eur Urol Suppl 2014;13:e591–e591a.

5 Kobelt G, Borgstrom F, Mattiasson A. Productivity, vitality and utility in a group of healthy professionally active individuals with nocturia. BJU Int. 2003;91(3):190–5

6 Park, H.K and Kim, H.G., Current Evaluation and Treatment of Nocturia, Korean J Urol. Aug 2013; 54(8): 492–498. page 492

7 Roitmann, E., O. Bellahsen, and A. Chieh. “Perceived sleep quality of sleep profiles derived from connected sleep detector data.” Sleep Medicine 40 (2017): e281-e282.

8 Laureanno, P. Ellsworth, P., Demystifying Nocturia: Identifying the Cause and Tailoring the Treatment. Urol Nurs. 2010;30(5):276-287.

9 Orzel-Gryglewska, J. Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2010; 23(1): 95-114. doi:10.2478/v10001-010-0004-9.

10 World Sleep Day website. Homepage. [Last accessed February 2017] Available at: www.worldsleepday.org

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