Nocturia Management
in the
Home Setting

Nocturia is the term used to define both unintentional night time bed wetting, as well as an increased need to urinate at night.

It disrupts sleep most of the time and has social implications that can be quite devastating for an adult.

Knowing how to manage nocturia is important in many aspects. A full restful night sleep is necessary for all of us. To be awakened every night, cold, wet and embarrassed, can lead to many problems. Unfortunately, there are few “quick fixes” here.


If your loved one is taking a “water pill” or diuretic, check with your doctor and see if you can change the time of the day the medication is taken.

Limiting fluids at near bedtime can help, but be careful to assure that adequate fluids are taken in during the day. Dehydration can have many complications … none of them good.

Drinking alcohol, caffeinated drinks and carbonated beverages can increase the need to urinate at night, especially if consumed directly before bedtime.

Excessive fluid intake should not occur, as a guideline, during the two hours before bedtime.

If the condition appears suddenly, check with your doctor as soon as possible. It may be a symptom of other issues, such as infection or prostate problems, or other issues, like diabetes, heart failure and liver failure. Sleep apnea has been associated with nocturia.


Once you have ruled out any physical causes (and treated it if able), you then have to help your loved one manage the issue. There are a variety of products which can help, including mattress protectors, adult diapers and condom catheters.

One effective way to manage nocturia is through the use of a condom catheter.


The highest risk factor for falls in the elderly is attempting to toilet, especially at night. When an elderly person awakens at night with a strong urge to void, they may get up confused and weak in a dimly lit room. The risk for falls, with and without fractures, is significantly increased under these circumstances.

Other risk factors include sleep disturbances and skin breakdown. Both are complications you should try to avoid as well. However, your own sleep will be disturbed if you are getting up every two hours to check on your loved one … in which case everyone ends up grumpy the next day.

In several studies, increased need to urinate at night has been shown to increase mortality rate (death rate) as well, usually due to falls with fractures.

This is one situation, but not the only, that does not lend itself to an easy fix. Do your best to minimize the effects on both your loved one and yourself.

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