Is Frequent Urination at Night a Sign of Diabetes?

If you wake up often at night to pee, you might wonder if something’s wrong. Most adults don’t need to go to the bathroom more than once during 6-8 hours in bed. If you do, doctors call it nocturia. It might signal a problem like diabetes.

Why Could It Be Diabetes?

One of the most common early signs of diabetes is a need to pee more often during the day. But it can also happen at night.

When there’s too much sugar in your blood, which happens if you have diabetes, your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of it. This forces them to make more urine. The process doesn’t stop just because you’re snoozing.

Diabetes can also damage your kidneys or bladder. Both can cause you to pee more.

Other Reasons You Pee at Night

Diabetes is just one reason you might be waking often to use the bathroom. There are lots of others, including:

Age. As years pass, your body makes less of a hormone that limits the amount of urine you make at night. So there's more in your bladder. Aging also affects how much urine your bladder can hold.

Drinking too much. Whether it’s water or drinks with caffeine or alcohol, too much before bedtime can fill your bladder and wake you up.

Diabetes insipidus. Unrelated to type 1 or 2 diabetes, this condition causes your kidneys to make too much urine.

Other things that could have you up often to pee include:

Other Diabetes Symptoms

If you do have diabetes, you could have other symptoms. These include:

See your doctor if you notice any of these.

How to Know for Sure

It’s important to know for sure if you have diabetes. It’s a serious condition that can lead to many other health problems. Your doctor can use several kinds of blood tests to diagnose diabetes or rule it out.

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Tests include:

A1c. Also called a glycated hemoglobin test, this measures your average blood sugar level for the past 2 or 3 months. You don’t need to fast or drink anything special for this test. An A1c level of 6.5 or higher shows you have diabetes. Below 5.7 is normal.

Fasting blood sugar. After you fast overnight, your blood is tested. A level higher than 126 mg/dL or higher on two tests shows diabetes. Below 100 mg/dL is normal.

Oral glucose tolerance. After you fast all night, you give a blood sample both before and 2 hours after you finish a sweet drink. Blood sugar levels of more than 200 mg/dL after 2 hours means you have diabetes. Less than 140 mg/dL is normal.

Random blood sugar. You give blood at a random time. A level of 200 mg/dL or higher shows diabetes.

You'll need these done twice to make a firm diagnosis.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on April 27, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

National Sleep Foundation: “Nocturia or Frequent Urination at Night.”

Diabetes New Zealand: “How Might Type 2 Diabetes Affect Your Sleep?”

Mayo Clinic: “Diabetes Symptoms: When Diabetes Symptoms Are a Concern,” “Diabetes.”

U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Urinating More at Night.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diabetes Insipidus.”

American Diabetes Association: “Diagnosis.”

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