There is good news for people who need to wake up one or more times during the night to go to the toilet. Researchers have found that simply cutting back on salt intake can reduce such night-time trips.
The need to pee at night or nocturia affects most people over the age of 60. Although it seems a simple problem, the lack of sleep can lead to other problems such as stress, irritability or tiredness, and so can have a significant negative impact on quality of life.
The new study presented at the European Society of Urology congress in London suggests that a slight dietary tweak can help tackle the problem.
Reducing the amount of salt in one's diet can significantly reduce excessive peeing – both during the day and when asleep, the study said.
"Night-time urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older. This work holds out the possibility that a simple dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people," said lead researcher Matsuo Tomohiro from Nagasaki University in Japan.
The researchers studied a group of 321 men and women who had a high salt intake and had problems sleeping.
The patients were given guidance and support to reduce salt consumption. They were followed for 12 weeks, and salt consumption measured biochemically.
As a result of the intervention, 223 members of the group were able to reduce their salt intake from 10.7 gm per day to 8.0 gm per day.
In this group, the average night-time frequency of urination dropped from 2.3 times per night to 1.4 times.
In contrast, 98 per cent increased their average salt intake from 9.6 gm per night to 11.0 gm per night, and they found that the need to urinate increased from 2.3 times per night to 2.7 times per night.
The researchers also found that daytime urination was reduced when salt in the diet was reduced.
"This is the first study to measure how salt intake affects the frequency of going to the bathroom, so we need to confirm the work with larger studies," Tomohiro said.