Peeing at night is like cleaning your water bottle—you either do it all the time, or you don’t. And if you do pee at night, it’s probably not something you’re happy about. Not only can it disrupt your sleep and circadian rhythm, but if you often resist the urge to go (because you know, it’s 3 a.m.), it can be detrimental to your internal organs.
And, according to new research, trips to the bathroom at night could be a sign of a more concerning health issue. A new study from the European Society of Cardiology found that if you frequently urinate at night, it could be an indicator of high blood pressure.
“Our study indicates that if you need to urinate in the night—called nocturia—you may have elevated blood pressure and/or excess fluid in your body,” says Satoshi Konno, M.D., of the Division of Hypertension at Tohoko Rosai Hospital in Sendai, Japan.
The study itself looked at the link between peeing at night and hypertension in the general Japanese population. Researchers found the risk of hypertension actually rose as the number of nocturia events per night increased. To put it simply: The more times people had to use the bathroom, the higher their risk of high blood pressure.
“We found that getting up in the night to urinate was linked to a 40 percent greater chance of having hypertension,” said Konno. “And the more visits to the toilet, the greater the risk of hypertension.”
Not only are these findings important for those who have nocturia, but Konno explains that this study has implications for preventing heart disease—especially since 1 billion people have hypertension pressure worldwide, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
“Early detection and management of hypertension are very important to prevent cardiovascular diseases. We should keep in mind that nocturia is not only caused by urinary organ problems but also by systemic diseases such as hypertension.”
That said, if you’re a night pee-er, don’t freak out. Konno says that these results do not prove a causal relationship between nocturia and hypertension, just a strong correlation. “The relationship between hypertension and nocturia may be influenced by various factors, including lifestyle, salt intake, ethnicity, and genetic background.”
In other words, it could be that you just have excess fluid in your body or that you should decrease your salt intake. But if you continue having to pee at night, it could be smart to ask your doctor to measure your blood pressure and salt intake during your next visit. That way, you can get to the bottom of the issue and get a better night’s sleep in the process.