Waking up in the middle of the night because you need to pee is more than just annoying — all the movement and commotion can lead to catching fewer zzzs, which in turn makes you more irritable, stressed, and just plain exhausted come morning. And while it may seem like the only way to control it is drinking less water before bed, science actually has a different solution: reducing your salt intake.
The nighttime peeing problem is actually a condition known as nocturia, which affects one in three people over the age of 30, according to the National Association For Continence. In a March 2017 study, researchers from Japan's Nagasaki University followed a group of more than 300 men and women, monitoring both their sodium intake and nighttime bathroom visits.
Over three months, roughly two thirds of participants were able to lower their daily salt intake from 10.7 grams to 8 grams per day. Interestingly, as their salt intakes lowered, so did the frequency of their nightly bathroom visits. This group went from having to pee an average of at least twice during the night to only having to get up once. And, aside from less inconvenience, they also reported a boost in life satisfaction.
As for the portion of the people who didn't lower their sodium intake, this group actually started eating more salt on a daily basis — and their sleep suffered because of it. Participants went from having to pee an average of about two times a night to feeling the urge nearly three times per night. What's more, the higher sodium group had to pee more often throughout the day, as well.
Lead study author Matsuo Tomohiro, PhD, said that this is the first piece of research to examine the link between salt intake and nocturia, and, while more research needs to be done, the results are pretty exciting.
"Nighttime urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older," Tomohiro said in a press release. "This work holds out the possibility that a simply dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people."
It's important to keep in mind the U.S. dietary guidelines recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. (That's about 6 grams, or 1 teaspoon, of salt.) According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the average daily intake for most Americans is 3,400 milligrams, so most of us could afford to cut back. But if you're sticking to the recommended numbers and still losing sleep to those late-night pee breaks, it might be time to pay your doctor a visit.
[h/t BBC News]