Do you wake up in the night with that “gotta go” feeling? If you’re like 75 percent of women over 40 who need to make a bathroom trip during the night, you miss that wonderful feeling of sleeping through the night. Here’s how to stop having to pee at night so you can snooze until morning.
Layer on a cardigan.
Japanese scientists discovered a simple trick for reducing the nighttime urges known as “nocturia”: putting on a sweater during the day. Why does it work? If your body is too chilly for several hours during the day, it puts stress on your central nervous system. This in turn triggers bladder spasms that make it feel as if you need to pee — an effect that lasts well into the overnight hours. Luckily, researchers say simply staying cozy during the day — the equivalent of sitting in a room that’s five degrees warmer — reduces overnight bathroom visits by 25 percent. (Need a new cardigan for summer? Shop our roundup of the best lightweight cardigans!)
Snack on pepitas.
Over time, a natural dip in estrogen levels can cause urinary-tract irritation that triggers the urge to use the bathroom overnight. One delicious remedy: “Have a few pepitas for a nighttime snack,” says Octavia Cannon, D.O., an OB-GYN in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also called green pumpkin seeds, pepitas were a folk cure for centuries before research in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine proved compounds in the seeds cut nighttime urges by up to 64 percent. That’s better than prescription drugs for nocturia —minus the side effects! Compounds in the seeds called Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita pepo ease inflammation and prevent spasming of the bladder.
Kick up your feet.
Gravity pulls fluid down during the day, causing it to pool in ankles and legs, triggering nocturia, reveal Harvard scientists. “When you lie down, this fluid goes directly to the kidney area and you have to use the bathroom,” says Dr. Cannon. Her easy fix: An hour before bed, prop your feet up to unwind. Elevating legs helps gravity pull fluid out of limbs so you can fully empty your bladder before bed and stop having to pee at night.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.