If You Wake Up Often at Night, You Could Be Lacking This Nutrient

Few things are more frustrating than being robbed of a good night’s sleep. For most…

Few things are more frustrating than being robbed of a good night’s sleep. For most people, avoiding certain foods and drinks near bedtime, such as caffeinated beverages or alcohol, can be the key to securing a solid session of peaceful slumber. But according to doctors, there might actually be one nutrient missing from your diet that could be forcing you to wake up more often at night. Read on to see what your body could be telling you.

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Besides the occasional bumps in the night or a snoring partner waking us up, how your body functions while you try to sleep can offer plenty of insight into your overall health. One such indicator is needing to use the bathroom at night, which is a medical condition known as nocturia. And while needing to get out of bed to relieve yourself is incredibly common as we age, doctors say it can be also be made worse by constipation brought on by a fiber deficiency in your diet.

“Constipation can absolutely cause nighttime urination,” Heather Jeffcoat, a pelvic floor expert with Fusion Wellness & Femina Physical Therapy in Los Angeles, California, tells health website Well + Good. “This is because built-up fecal matter in the colon can press on the bladder and instill urgency strong enough to wake you up.”

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It’s no secret that fiber is needed to help maintain digestive health, especially as we age. But according to doctors, there are a host of reasons why getting enough of the nutrient can be beneficial—including helping you sleep through the night.

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“A diet high in fiber helps with so many health issues, from maintaining a well-balanced gut microbiome and strong cardiovascular system to combating nocturia,” Caroline Cederquist, MD, a functional medicine doctor and the co-founder of bistroMD, tells Well + Good. “High fiber diets also help with constipation, of course. People who are constipated often have pressure on their bladder, which affects its ability to fully expand, causing nocturia. Avoiding constipation is probably the most immediate and important way a high fiber diet helps nocturia.”

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While it’s not the only sign that your diet may be lacking in fiber, constipation can be a critical indicator that you’re not getting enough of the essential nutrient. Medical experts point out that going to the bathroom less than three times per week is a sign of the condition. And while a lack of exercise or taking certain medications can also be to blame, you can still help prevent it with simple dietary changes, according to WebMD. Adding more fiber-rich foods to your meals, such as apples, raspberries, carrots, broccoli, or whole grains, can help boost your intake and allow your body to get enough of what it needs.

And it’s not just about staying regular: getting enough of the nutrient can also bring about a host of other health benefits. “Fiber is important to your overall [gastrointestinal] function as high fiber intakes are associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease, reduced blood pressure, better glycemic control, and improved gastrointestinal function, among others,” Cederquist says.

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Besides dietary changes, there are other ways to help avoid nocturia, including avoiding drinking too much caffeine or alcohol in the evening or reducing the amount of liquid you drink right before bed, Cederquist says. But if you find yourself still struggling with the nighttime condition, it could also be a sign of other health problems.

Waking up to pee twice or more over the course of one night could also be caused by a bladder infection or urinary tract infection, according to Healthline. It could also result from an enlarged or infected prostate, overactive bladder, diabetes, a kidney infection, or even congestive heart failure. Experts recommend speaking to your doctor or healthcare provider if you notice nocturia so they can address any underlying issues.

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