An urge to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night isn’t just annoying, it could also be a sign of a more serious health problem. According to a new study, frequent nighttime urges to urinate, a problem known as nocturia, may be a symptom of too much salt in your diet. The research suggested that putting the salt shaker down would both reduce the urge to pee in the middle of the night, and promote overall health.

In a study recently presented at the European Society of Urology congress in London, researchers from Nagasaki University in Japan explained their findings around too much dietary salt and overnight bathroom trips, The BBC reported. Reducing the amount of salt in one's diet could lead to less frequent nighttime urination. According to the study, this health advice may be particularly useful for older individuals, as the body becomes less efficient at dealing with salt as we age, The Telegraph reported.

Read: How A Diet Too High In Sodium Can Affect Your Heart, Brain, And Even Bone Health

"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,” explained study author Dr. Matsuo Tomohiro in a recent statement. "This work holds out the possibility that a simply [sic] dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people."

For the study, the team followed 321 volunteers who had high salt intake as well as sleeping problems; 223 individuals were advised to cut down on their salt intake, and as a result, the number of times they used the bathroom dropped, both during the day and in the evening. In addition, 98 individuals ate more salt than normal during the 12 week course of the research. This group reported having more trips to the bathroom in that time. These results contradict past ideas that the amount of liquid a person drank was responsible for overactive bladders in the evening.

Although most of us have woken up to use the bathroom at some point in our lives, nocturia is a problem that mainly affects those aged 50 and older. In addition, Healthline reported that the condition could also be caused by certain types of medications, anxiety, kidney infections, or bladder and urinary tract infections. The irritating condition is also a common symptom of pregnancy, as the growing womb can press against the bladder, increasing the need for urination.

However, consuming too much salt won’t just make you pee more, it could also hurt your health in other ways. For example, according to Women’s Health, too much salt in the diet could cause your blood pressure to spike, which in turn increases your risk of suffering from a stroke. In addition, salt can be stressful on the kidneys, which in the long run can lead to kidney problems, such as chronic kidney disease.

While we need salt as part of a healthy diet, as suggested by this new study and the collective advice of doctors, moderate consumption is best for optimal health and bladder comfort.

Source: Tomohiro M, Night-time urination reduced by cutting salt in diet. European Association of Urology. 2017.

See Also:

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4 Easy Ways To Cut Back On Salt Intake And Add Flavor To Your Food