Tips for Calming an Overactive Bladder at Night

June 07,2023 |
Older woman sleeping on her side.

Dealing with urologic issues is never fun, but they can be downright frustrating if they interrupt your sleeping habits and disrupt your day-to-day activities. For example, if you get up multiple times in the middle of the night, you may struggle with an overactive bladder at night, which can impact your mood and energy levels the next day. To help you regain control of your life, we'll review a few tips for calming an overactive bladder at night.


Some Basic Information on Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common condition affecting millions worldwide. However, it's not considered a "disease" in and of itself. Instead, it's characterized by a range of urologic symptoms—primarily urinary incontinence and frequency. OAB can lead to sudden urges to urinate that may be difficult to delay, as well as frequent trips to the bathroom, even during the night. When overactive bladder occurs at night, it's commonly called nocturia.

Overactive bladder can be disruptive and uncomfortable, significantly impacting daily activities and overall quality of life. For example, OAB can interfere with sleep, cause embarrassment or social isolation, and even lead to falls or accidents. However, with appropriate treatment, many people can address their symptoms and manage overactive bladder.


What Causes Overactive Bladder at Night?

The exact cause of overactive bladder isn't always clear, but many doctors believe it's related to nerve and muscle dysfunction present in the bladder. In addition, some underlying medical conditions, such as neurological disorders (i.e., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease), diabetes, or bladder infections, can worsen symptoms of OAB both during the day and at night. Similarly, medications like diuretics may increase your risk of overactive bladder.

Overactive bladder at night, known as nocturia, can be caused by lifestyle habits or patterns. One common cause is simply drinking too much fluid before bedtime, which can cause the bladder to fill up quickly and lead to the need to urinate frequently throughout the night. In addition, bladder irritants like caffeine and alcohol may also increase the prevalence of nocturia.

Other potential causes of overactive bladder at night include:

  • Age — as we get older, the muscles in our bladder weaken. These weakened muscles can lead to decreased bladder capacity and increased frequency of urination.


  • Urinary Tract Infections — infections of the upper or lower urinary tract can cause inflammation and irritation of the bladder, leading to an increased need to urinate.


  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea — people with obstructive sleep apnea may experience nocturia due to changes in how the body handles fluids during sleep. If you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, it's essential to see your doctor to undergo the proper diagnostics and treatment.


  • Hormonal Imbalances — fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly in women, can affect bladder function and contribute to overactive bladder at night.


If you're experiencing symptoms of overactive bladder during the day or night, it's essential to see your doctor. In doing so, you can be tested for underlying conditions, giving you treatment options that allow you to regain control of your life and return to feeling fully rested.


Different Types of Nocturia

The cause of your overactive bladder at night may also vary based on the type of nocturia you're experiencing. There are three primary types of nocturia, which are as follows:

Nocturnal Polyuria

This type of OAB occurs when your bladder produces excessive urine at night, usually more than 20-30% of your standard urine output. This increased urine production can be caused by factors such as heart or kidney failure, obstructive sleep apnea, certain medications, or hormone imbalances.


Low Nocturnal Bladder Capacity

This type of nocturia is characterized by the bladder's inability to hold a normal amount of urine at night. Aging, bladder infections, bladder or prostate cancer, bladder stones, or bladder inflammation can cause it.


Mixed Nocturia

Mixed nocturia is a combination of nocturnal polyuria and decreased bladder capacity. Excessive urine is produced at night, and bladder capacity is compromised.


8 Tips for Calming an Overactive Bladder at Night

Although it can be frustrating, there are ways to address overactive bladder at night. While it's important to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that fits your needs and addresses any underlying conditions, there are additional tips to help.


1. Limit Fluids Before Bed

Drinking too many fluids before going to sleep can cause your bladder to become overly full. This can happen to anyone, regardless of if they experience nocturia. However, if you have OAB during the day, too many fluids before bed will increase the likelihood of needing to use the bathroom at night. Therefore, limit your fluid intake in the evening, particularly in the hours leading up to bedtime. Stay hydrated throughout the day but consider tapering off your fluid intake as you approach bedtime.


2. Avoid Alcohol and Other Irritants

Certain foods and beverages, like alcohol, caffeine, and spicy or acidic foods, can irritate the bladder and exacerbate overactive bladder symptoms. To calm your bladder at night, try to avoid bladder irritants in the evening. Instead, opt for water or herbal tea and choose mild, non-spicy foods for dinner.


3. Keep a Food Diary

Keeping track of what you eat and drink throughout the day can also help you identify potential triggers of nocturia. To help you gain some clarity on how your diet is affecting your condition, try keeping a food diary for a few weeks. Write down what you eat and drink, when you consume it, and any symptoms you experience afterward. Then, look for patterns in your diary to identify foods or drinks contributing to your symptoms. Once you identify potential triggers, you can change your diet to see if it helps reduce your symptoms.


4. Reduce Foods with a Diuretic Effect

Additionally, some foods have a natural diuretic effect, which increases urine production. These include things like watermelon, celery, asparagus, and more. If you experience OAB symptoms at night, try reducing your intake of these foods in the evening.


5. Talk to Your Doctor About Medications

If lifestyle changes aren't working well, your doctor may recommend medication to help manage overactive bladder symptoms. Several different types of medications are available, including antimuscarinics and beta-3 agonists. Antimuscarinics work by relaxing the bladder muscle, while beta-3 agonists work by increasing bladder capacity. Your doctor can help you choose the proper medication based on your symptoms and medical history.


6. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the bladder, worsening overactive bladder symptoms and other urologic conditions. To help calm your bladder at night, try to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. For example, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help, in addition to regular exercise, such as walking, cycling, or swimming.


7. Do Kegel Exercises Regularly

Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor. Regularly performing these exercises will help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder and improve bladder control. To do Kegels, squeeze the muscles you use to stop the urine flow, hold for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat this exercise several times daily, aiming for three sets of 10 repetitions each time.


8. Double-Void Before Bed

Double voiding involves urinating twice in a row to help ensure that the bladder is empty. Doing this before bed may help reduce the need to urinate during the night. To double-void, urinate as you usually would, and then wait a few minutes before trying to urinate again. You may be able to empty your bladder more completely the second time, reducing the frequency of nighttime trips to the bathroom.


Other Ways to Manage Overactive Bladder

In addition to the tips mentioned above, several other ways to treat overactive bladder exist. Some of them include the following:

Behavioral Therapy

 Behavioral therapy involves strategies like bladder training and timed voiding. Bladder training involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom breaks to help your bladder get used to holding more urine. Timed voiding consists of setting a schedule for using the bathroom. Your doctor can provide more information regarding both of these therapies.


Nerve Stimulation

This involves sending electrical impulses through a small device under the skin near the hip bone to stimulate the nerves that control bladder function.


Botox Injections

Botox can be injected directly into the bladder muscle to help reduce the muscle contractions that cause overactive bladder. Many people find that the effects last for several months.



In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat overactive bladder. Surgery may involve procedures like bladder augmentation or inserting a sacral nerve stimulator.


Although the direct cause of overactive bladder at night may not be entirely known, it's still a frustrating condition to deal with. To help you regain control of your life, Byram Healthcare provides supportive products to help you manage your symptoms.

Byram Healthcare is a member of the National Association for Continence’s Trusted Partners Program, whose mission is to provide quality continence care through education, collaboration and advocacy. We continue to build partnerships in the clinical community to ensure we focus on what’s best for the patient.