Did you know that how often you pee changes with age? It may not be that noticeable—unless you’re one to meticulously track your habits—but you do generally take more trips to the bathroom as you get older, for myriad reasons.
Specifically, many people find they get up and go in the middle of the night as they grow older—which can be frustrating if you’re constantly jostled out of your slumber. “Yes, that is absolutely a thing,” says Dana Cohen, M.D., integrative medicine physician and co-author of Quench, on the mindbodygreen podcast.
Below, she explains what goes on with pee frequency as we age.
Why you may have to pee more at night as you get older.
“The antidiuretic hormone, ADH, or vasopressin, diminishes as we get older,” Cohen says.
Let’s give some context to ADH: The chemical’s main gig is to control how much water your body conserves—when those levels are high, your body will produce less urine. And levels tend to rise during the night to prevent you from, you know, wetting the bed. “It’s meant so that we don’t get up to pee at night,” Cohen adds.
So when ADH naturally decreases as you age, that means those levels may remain low while you’re sleeping—and thus, you may feel the urge to get up and go.
As for the exact age, it’s difficult to say. Everyone’s body is different, after all. Studies have reported these changes in individuals 65 years and older, but again, there’s no specific year. If you are below 65, “you’re probably still young enough, unless you’re drinking a huge glass of water in the middle of the night,” notes Cohen. ADVERTISEMENT
What to do about it.
Of course, if you’re concerned about constantly rushing to the bathroom, you might want to consult a urologist or primary care physician just to make sure you’re not dealing with an underlying medical condition.
But if it is, in fact, your ADH hormone diminishing with age, many experts find it helpful to try “timed voiding.” This is a type of bladder training that can be helpful for those looking to “gain control” over their bladder. For example, you could try going to the bathroom every three to four hours, remembering to track each trip and how much fluid you’re drinking. And as Cohen notes, you might not want to gulp down a gallon of water right before tucking into bed.
Some of us are used to getting up in the middle of the night to pee; others less so. If you are feeling the urge more than you have before and have ruled out any possible medical conditions, it may just mean your ADH hormone has diminished due to aging.