HomeHealthWhat makes you need to pee during the night?

What makes you need to pee during the night?

There are so many ‘wonderful’ aspects to growing older. Dodgy knees or hips, or perhaps other achy joints might be familiar to you if you’re over 50. And perhaps you struggle to read the paper these days without glasses. And then there’s the common ‘favourite’ – getting up for a pee in the middle of the night.

No doubt there are far worse health issues many older Australians have to deal with than a mid-sleep ‘pit stop’. But one can’t help but feel a little annoyed at having to interrupt a good night’s sleep for a pee. Especially in the cold, dark of winter. And especially when it wasn’t necessary in your youth!

Why are more frequent night-time trips to the loo needed as you age? And how many times a night is normal? If you have to get up more than once to pee, is that a sign something’s wrong? These are all good questions.

Things that make you pee in the night

The first thing to acknowledge is that having to get up once or twice a night to pee as you age is normal. In fact, even if you’re aged under 50 it’s not necessarily a problem. One in three adults older than 30 makes at least two trips to the bathroom nightly. 

Not everyone is happy about this, of course. Research suggests night-time pee stops bother 70 per cent of people. 

By the age of 65, half of us will need to pee at least once each night. Some will need to go twice or more. This can be a minor inconvenience for some, but a big problem for those who have sleep difficulties.

If you have the need to get up at night to urinate, then you have what’s officially known as ‘nocturia’. 

Why do older people need to pee more often?

There are a host of factors involved when it comes to urination frequency. The amount you drink and what you drink both play a role. Certain medications can also increase your urge to pee more often. 

And then there’s ADH, which stands for ‘anti-diuretic hormone’. When you sleep, ADH is released into your system, helpfully slowing down the rate at which your kidneys produce urine. According to urological surgeon Dr Karen McKertich, ageing can slow the production of ADH in some people. As a result, urine is produced at the higher daytime rate, leading to more regular night-time trips to the bathroom.

How sleep and peeing can affect each other

Yes, there are several things you can do that may help. Ironically, while your need to pee more often can affect your sleep quality, not sleeping properly can increase your need to pee. Proper sleep will help you produce more ADH, reducing urine production. 

With that in mind, you can increase your chances of better quality sleep in several ways. Firstly, make your sleep environment comfortable, with a suitable mattress and sheets to suit the temperature. Secondly, get to bed early, and limit TV, phone or other screen activities before bed. Finally, limit foods and drinks that irritate the bladder, such as coffee or alcohol, especially before bedtime.

Is there anything else you can do to reduce your frequency?

Other steps you can take include:

  • being in a relaxed position when urinating, and allowing time for the bladder to completely empty
  • practising pelvic floor muscle exercises
  • drinking enough fluids during the day to avoid becoming dehydrated
  • maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and eating nutritious foods
  • review your medications regime with your GP. Even the time you take some pharmaceuticals can affect urine production and/or sleep.

One or more of these may help reduce your need to get up and pee during the night. Ultimately, though, an increased frequency is a fairly normal part of ageing. If it causes you minimal disruption, there’s probably not much need to worry. Otherwise, take a trip to your local GP to discuss your concerns and available options.

Has your need to get up during the night increased with age? Is it no more than a minor inconvenience or are you concerned? Let us know via the comments section below. 

Also read: Incontinence products proving a headache for landfill

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. While we All – over 40 think going for a wee at night is a “pain” – have a think about “HOW” this all comes about?

    Our bodies – are amazingly designed! Tendons and nerves that run through pulleys and tunnels that allow us to operate our toes and fingers.

    Your esophagus carries food and liquid from your mouth to your stomach. When you swallow, food and liquid that first moves from your mouth to your throat (pharynx). A small muscular flap called the epiglottis closes to prevent food and liquid from going down the “wrong pipe” — your windpipe (trachea). Another small flap called the uvula helps prevent liquid from passing upward into your nasal cavity.

    And – your bladder works to collect all the leftovers after you have drunk and eaten all day.

    Have you ever thought how all of this comes together? It CERTAINLY WAS NOT caused by ‘a big bang!”

  2. I am constantly amazed at the design of the human body and am reminded that as we age, the floor and the ground gets further away when we need to pick something up.
    But NO, as we get older, we get shorter in stature and don’t have to reach as far to touch the floor.
    I find this apparent design defect not to be a defect after all!!!

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