Lack of sleep leads to increased urinary output and more salt in urine

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Our body's production of urine follows a circadian rhythm. During the day, we experience greater urinary frequency; at night, urine production declines, enabling us to get uninterrupted sleep.

The regulation of urine excretion during nighttime hours is influenced by many factors, including hormones, blood flow (hemodynamics), and sleep-related factors. The mechanism behind the day/night changes is not yet clear. Danish researchers have examined the urinary patterns of sleep-deprived volunteers and have found that a lack of sleep leads to increased urinary output and more salt in urine. The findings were found to be more prevalent in males than females.

The Study
The study team is comprised of Birgitte Mahler, Kostantinos Kamperis, Soeren Hagstroem, Eva Radvanska, Soren Rittig, and J.C. Djurhuus, all of the Aarhus University Hospital, Brendstrupgaardsvej, Aarhus, Denmark. Dr. Mahler will present her team's findings, entitled, “Sleep Deprivation and Nocturnal Urine Output – Gender Difference in the Effect,” at the upcoming conference, Sex and Gender in Cardiovascular-Renal Physiology and Pathophysiology. The meeting, sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS;, is being held August 9-12, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Austin on Town Lake, Austin, TX.

Twenty healthy volunteers (ten males; ten females; 19-35 years of age) underwent two 24-hour circadian in-patient studies under standardized conditions for diet and fluid intake. Participants were sleep deprived during one of the two sessions in a randomized sequence. Their blood pressure and heart rate were recorded every hour using a non-invasive blood pressure monitor. Electrolytes, osmolarity, creatine and urea were evaluated in plasma and urine. Key blood elements were also measured. Excretions and clearances were calculated for electrolytes and osmoles.

Key Findings
There were no significant differences in the quantity or contents of the daytime urine examined in both experimental periods. Following the sleep deprivation period, however, both genders produced markedly larger amounts of urine. This effect was significantly more pronounced in males than females.

Sleep deprivation reduced the nighttime dip in blood pressure which can explain the lower levels of nighttime plasma rennin, angiotensin II and aldosterone and the increase in sodium and potassium excretion. The relatively higher blood pressure on sleep deprivation nights may also have affected the blood pressure in the kidney producing an osmotic diuresis.

The researchers found that during nighttime, acute sleep deprivation leads to:

  • an increased urine output more evident in males
  • a reduced fall in blood pressure (reduced nighttime dip)
  • lower levels of sodium regulating hormones (plasma rennin, angiotensin II and aldosterone)
  • excessive excretion of osmoles (sodium and potassium).

A change in the body's hemodynamics, caused by sleep deprivation, seems to account for these observations.

The American Physiological Society (APS; has been an integral part of the scientific discovery process since it was established in 1887. Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function to create health or disease.


  1. Greg Marlow Greg Marlow United States says:

    Testosterone has a circadian rhythm that causes the lowest level in the evening and levels to rise during sleep. If sleep is interrupted levels won’t rise as quickly. Low testosterone also decreases sodium reabsorption by the kidneys. Extra urination could be the result of the body trying to replace the sodium it is less effectively holding on to due to decreased sodium reabsorption. Testosterone is of course a more significant factor in males corresponding to the finding of higher prevalence in males.

  2. Jessie Kondal Jessie Kondal United States says:

    Very interesting article. I'm an overnight worker and every morning after work when it's time to lay down I go to the bathroom every 45 minutes. What makes it even harder is that I cant sleep in the evening before work because I have two children.  It's very frustrating and leading to an even greater sleep deprivation problem

  3. Kelan O Connor Kelan O Connor Ireland says:

    For me I can categorically confirm these findings I am a male aged 27 and always when I am sleep deprived I urinate excessively apparently inexplicably my quest for a reason led me to this article my own speculation was that some hormonal stress response was increasing renal blood flow or that my body was naturally producing more diuretic compounds or that the effect of ADH was being interfered with in some way.

  4. Indiana1616 Indiana1616 United States says:

    Reading this makes a lot of sense. I'm a 31 yo male and have to get up to use the restroom about five times a night. I'm also sleep deprived from the work I do. I've seen three urologists about this- each has given me different pills to take, which may help a little- it's hard to tell. But for me, I can tell the biggest factor regulating how much I have to wake up in a given night depends on the quality of the sleep the night before. I'm hopeful that if I can repay my "sleep debt" my need to get up at night will be reduced or eliminated.

  5. Im 60 years old and have sleep problems for years and when I am deprived of sleep for days I will urinate frequently at lest seven times from night to morning .

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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