Nocturia, or waking up at night to go to the toilet to pass urine, is generally only considered a problem if it happens two or more times per night. It’s a common condition and the chances of being affected increase with age, with about half of all men aged 70-79 getting up twice or more each night (Abrams et. al., 2013).

The condition is often considered a trivial matter, but it needs to be taken seriously because it can signficantly impact quality of life.

Waking up frequently can cause daytime fatigue, putting people, particularly older sufferers, at risk of falls and bone fractures. It can also affect work performance, concentration, memory and moods, lowering the overall quality of a person’s life (Burgio et. al., 2010) .

A recent Danish study (Holm-Larson, 2014) has revealed its considerable cost to society, incurred directly when sufferers fall and injure themselves, and indirectly when sufferers’ productivity at work drops as the result of absence or poor concentration.

According to the study, the direct costs to society resulting from falls and injuries are estimated at $1.5 billion/year in the US, and €1 billion in the European Union.

Indirect work-related costs are estimated to be around $61 billion/year in the US and €14 billion in the EU.

On the basis of these figures, the author of the study argues that nocturia places a bigger burden on the economy than that of more widely recognised conditions such as overactive bladder or urinary incontinence, and therefore warrants more public health attention than it currently receives.  

If you or anyone you know is affected by nocturia, see your GP or phone the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.


Abrams, P., Cardozo, L., Khoury, S. and Wein, A (Eds) (2013)  Incontinence.  International Consultant on Incontinence.  5th Ed.

Burgio KL, Johnson TM, 2nd, Goode PS, et al. Prevalence and correlates of nocturia in community-dwelling older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 2010;58:861–6. 

 Holm-Larsen T, The Economic impact of nocturia, Neurourology and Urodynamics, 2014, DOI: 10.1002/nau.22593