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What's Really Going On With Your Late-Night Bathroom Trips

06/11/2015 08:39 am ET | Updated Jun 11, 2015

Getting a good night's sleep is vital to our health, but all too many people have their sweet slumber interrupted by their own bladders. Dr. Margarita Rohr, internist at NYU Langone Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health, says a recent study showed that one-third of women over 40 had the urge to urinate an average of one to two times during the night. Frequent urination is also common in older men, usually related to issues with the prostate.

While late-night bathroom breaks are a common problem, they're not one you should ignore. "Normally, you should be able to sleep through the night without getting up to go to the bathroom," Rohr says.

In the above #OWNSHOW video, she shares four things you can do to reduce your nightly visits to the porcelain throne:

1. Don't drink fluids right before bed. This may seem obvious, but it's an important one.

2. Stop drinking caffeine and alcohol. "Both of these are bladder irritants, so they can increase the chance that you're going to get up during the night," she says.

3. Wear compression stockings during the day. Rohr says elevating your legs at night will also help with fluid retention.

4. Take a nap. A daily nap helps your body equilibrate fluids, Rohr says. "You don't need a longer nap, a 20 minute nap should be sufficient to allow this to happen," she adds.

If the problem persists, Rohr says to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. The frequent need to urinate can sometimes be a symptom a treatable problem, like a urinary tract infection. "I had a patient recently that came in, and she was telling me she was having a hard time sleeping," Rohr says. "Once we got into our conversation, she told me she was actually getting up once every hour to go to the bathroom to urinate -- which obviously isn't normal, but she didn't think this was a problem. When we did a urine test, it did turn out that she had a urinary tract infection."

But excessive nighttime urination can also be a symptom of a serious underlying disease, such as diabetes or a heart condition. "Your heart act likes a pump, and if the pump isn't working adequately, that means that the blood flow to the kidneys isn't adequate, so you have fluid retention -- and this can cause increased urination," Rohr says.

The bottom line: Never ignore the warning signs your body is telling you. "You should definitely speak to your doctor and discuss the symptoms with them," Rohr says.

More health tips: 5 things your gynecologist wishes you knew.

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