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preventing nighttime voiding: patient education tool

by Diane K. Newman, DNP, FAAN, BCB-PMD  

Preventing nighttime voiding and incontinence

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As you get older, your kidneys make more urine at night when you are asleep. Since your bladder has more urine you need to get up more often to void.

What can I do to cut down on the amount of urine at night?

Limit your fluids in the evening. Stopping evening fluids with the completion of the evening meal, commonly at 6 p.m. can help. But remember to maintain adequate fluid intake during the day of 6 - 7 glasses (8 ounce size).

What types of drinks or foods may be more irritating?

Beverages containing caffeine and alcohol will be more irritating. So eliminate all caffeine and alcohol containing beverages in the afternoon and especially in the evening. Do not drink these beverages after 6 p.m. Remember that even decaffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, soda) have some caffeine and should be avoided. Chocolate has caffeine so if you like chocolate ice cream, pudding or cake as a nighttime snack, this may worsen your nighttime problem.

What else can I do to cut down on nighttime voiding?

As you age, your body starts to retain water (called edema) in the lower legs and ankles. To decrease this edema or swelling, lie down on your left side for 1 ½ to 2 hours during late afternoon to evening hours. When watching TV or after lunch, prop your legs on a stool or chair. Then proceed with regular evening activities for a few hours before bedtime. This will cause you to excrete some of this excess water before retiring so that it is not such a load on your bladder throughout the night.

Try not to use a bedpan or urinal unless you are afraid of falling on the way to the bathroom. Get out of bed to urinate to help your bladder empty more fully.

[Adapted with permission from Newman, DK. (2002) Managing and Treating Urinary Incontinence, Baltimore: Health Professions Press]  

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Posted October 2006
Updated October 2011

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