fewer bathroom visits, raisins in the evening

Do you have to get up a couple of times a night to pee? If so, you are not alone. Tens of millions of people find that nighttime urination (nocturia) is a challenge. For one thing, it wakes you up and makes it harder to go back to sleep. For another, it could be deadly.

When you are groggy from sleep, making your way to the bathroom can be treacherous, especially if you are a little unsteady on your feet. If you are take sleeping pills, including “PM” pain relievers, it can be even worse. A fall can lead to a fracture and that is risky business. According to experts writing in Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation (Sept. 2010):

“Hip fractures are associated with significant morbidity, mortality, loss of independence, and financial burden. In usual care, the reported 1-year mortality after sustaining a hip fracture has been estimated to be 14% to 58%. The relative risk of mortality in the elderly patient population increases 4% per year. The first year after a hip fracture appears to be the most critical time. A recent meta-analysis revealed that women sustaining a hip fracture had a 5-fold increase and men almost an 8-fold increase in relative likelihood of death within the first 3 months as compared with age- and sex-matched controls.”

Nighttime Urination and Increased Risk of Death

It almost seems like a tabloid headline (“Association of Nocturia and Mortality”), but that is the title of a study in the Journal of Urology (Feb., 2011). The research revealed that:

“Nocturia is a strong predictor of mortality, more so in younger men and women than in the elderly, with a dose-response pattern in increased mortality risk with increasing number of voiding episodes nightly.”

In this study nocturia was defined as having to get up two or more times a night to pee.

A more recent study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice (Nov. 2017) notes:

“Nocturia is defined as the need to void ≥1 time during the sleeping period of the night. Clinically relevant nocturia (≥2 voids per night) affects 2%-18% of those aged 20-40 years, rising to 28%-62% for those aged 70-80 years. Consequences include the following: lowered quality of life; falls and fractures; reduced work productivity; depression; and increased mortality. Nocturia-related hip fractures alone cost approximately €1 billion in the EU and $1.5 billion in the USA in 2014.”

Now please do not panic if your nighttime urination frequency is two or three times a night. The research does not suggest you are at immediate risk of dying. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning to your healthcare professional if you are getting up more than two times a night to pee. There may be an underlying medical condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated appropriately.

Risk Factors for Nighttime Urination

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Nervousness (anxiety)
  • Psychological depression
  • Prostatitis and/or prostate cancer
  • Record of prolonged bed-wetting as young person
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis
  • Hysterectomy

Why Does Nighttime Urination Increase Mortality?

The investigators hypothesize that one reason people may have higher mortality (besides falling) could be sleep disruption. Kidney function might be another factor. Whatever the reason, if we could reduce nighttime urination through a non-toxic home remedy it might be beneficial.

Bedtime Raisins Reduce Bathroom Visits:

Q. Thank you for writing about eating raisins at bedtime to reduce bathroom visits. I am 84 and for many years I had to get up every hour or two.

Now I take two spoonfuls of raisins (I don’t count them) and get at least six hours sleep. If I need to, I repeat the procedure and sleep another four hours. I told my doctor not to laugh. He said he doesn’t laugh at anything that works.

A. We first heard about this remedy nearly a year and a half ago. A reader wrote:

“I usually get up several times during the night to urinate. I have noticed that when I eat raisins just before I go to bed, I don’t need to get up as often, if at all.”

We could find no explanation, but others, like you, have found this tip helpful.

Other Stories of Raisins vs. Nighttime Urination:

William in Phoenix shared this story:

“After a suggestion from a friend to try ‘Drunken Raisins’ as a remedy for arthritis I began to eat 10 ‘drunken raisins’ each morning & 10 in the evening. I could not tell any immediate help but I thought it was easing the arthritis pain somewhat.

“Several weeks went by & someone quoted from your newsletter that raisins before going to bed may avoid the need to get up during the night to urinate as often.

“I had been on a new bladder pill for a couple of years & had recently gotten off this bladder pill (Myrbetriq) because it was not on my new 2015 insurance formulary.

“As I was told of the info in your newsletter about eating raisins to help with overactive bladder urgency, I thought; ‘I don’t think I need a bladder pill any longer’ and then I realized I was already taking raisins in the ‘drunken’ form. (I will leave the subject of gin-soaked raisins for you to explain in your newsletter.)

“I now realize my newfound successful remedy has to be the raisins that have taken the place of the Myrbetriq. As I charted my urinary habits and recorded the feel of urgency I decided to use 10 raisins 3 x a day with the last dose taken just before retiring for the night. I sleep all night through but awaken about 6 am with a need to urinate but not an urgency. I am quite positive the raisins are doing as good a job as the medicine I was taking.”

Bell in Dublin, Ireland discovered a downside to the raisins:

“I was taking raisins because I was getting up 4 to 5 times a night to go to bathroom. It helped after taking them only once, but the downside of taken them was that I put on 4 lbs, so I had to stop.

“I put that weight on in 2 weeks so I am back to getting up to go to bathroom 4 times a night. I wish there was something to take that would not make me put on weight.”

Eating a handful of raisins every night could add pounds over time. It may be necessary to compensate by cutting back on dessert or increasing activity during the day.

Terry in North Olmsted, Ohio appreciates raisins:

“I have read the comments on raisins and nighttime urination. I am a 68-year-old man in good health, but I have been getting up sometimes 2 – 3 times a night with a need to pee.

“I have been taking powdered magnesium at night for several years to help with regularity, so I know that is not what the raisins are supplying that is helping.

“I have now had 3 of the best nights of sleep I’ve had in several years. I take about 15 raisins an hour before bed. I chew them well and that’s it; a great nights sleep. Last night I didn’t get up at all. It was wonderful.

“Others have talked about weight gain from the raisins. I don’t think 10 to 15 raisins will make much of a difference. Maybe with my increased energy from sleeping well, I can be a bit more active during the day. This whole thing sounds crazy, but I am very encouraged.”

Dick in Lake Mary, Florida is a happy camper and so is his wife:

“I am an 80-year-old with prostate cancer. I have been getting up every hour or two each night for the past 4 years.

“I tried the raisins before bedtime and I am amazed. Now I am getting six hours of continuous sleep!

“My 80-year-old wife complained about frequent nightly trips and I told her about the raisins. Now she sleeps like a baby!!

“Last week, I had a tooth extracted and could not eat the raisins for a couple nights. You guessed it. I was up every hour again! This really works!!”

People’s Pharmacy Perspective:

We don’t think the raisin remedy will work for everyone with nocturia. Nevertheless, it might be worth a try to reduce nighttime urination. It is certainly less likely to cause difficulties than prescription medicines. Remember to watch the calories and compensate for the extra raisins by cutting back on dessert and other snacks.

If the raisins don’t work or the benefits gradually fade. Here are some other approaches to consider:

Other Strategies for Combatting Nocturia:

  • reduce fluid intake 3-4 hours before bedtime
  • Always pee before climbing into bed
  • try to exercise and improve fitness
  • Ask your doctor about kegel exercises
  • Try to lose weight if there are love handles
  • If you are on water pills (diuretics) try taking them in the morning or early afternoon rather than before bed

A Cautionary Tale About NSAIDS for Nocturia:

Several years ago we heard from a runner who shared this story:

“Have you ever heard of ibuprofen helping men with prostate problems? I am a runner and frequently use ibuprofen after a long run. I discovered that on the days that I took ibuprofen I didn’t have to get up at night to go the bathroom.

“When I have beer with the boys in the evening I take ibuprofen afterwards and don’t have get up to pee. Normally, I would be up and down a couple of times.”

Since then we have heard from other men who get a similar “benefit” from NSAIDs like ibuprofen. There is even a fair amount of research to support the concept. Here are some links:

Pain Reliever Eases Prostate Problem

Why Was Aleve Better Than Tylenol for Bed-Wetting?

Will Advil Reduce Bathroom Runs?

NSAIDs can be hard on the kidneys. Diminished urine flow is not necessarily a good thing, even though it might reduce trips to the bathroom. Other side effects of regular NSAID use include indigestion, stomach ulcers, heart attacks, strokes and hypertension, to name just a few. That’s why we do not advocate regular use of NSAIDs for nocturia. Raisins seem like a far safer option.

Share your own nighttime urination story below in the comment section and please vote on this article at the top of the page.

Revised 2/15/2018

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  1. Anthony
    FL
    Reply

    I am curious if the raisins simply provide fuel so they are not going hypoglycemic at night?

  2. Peter
    Boston
    Reply

    I’m switching off the artificial sweetener which causes polyuria. I thought drinking decaf would stop it but no the sugar substitute was the culprit. I now use 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and, Voila, less peeing. I’ll be sure to pee before going to bed and yes I’ll eat the raisins too. I have sleep apnea so I struggle with the CPAP. Tonight I’ll also try nasal strips to improve breathing.

  3. Rose
    Hawaii
    Reply

    Do currants work as well?

  4. Maureen
    Reply

    How many raisins do I need to eat to stop going 12 or more times a night? I suffer from interstitial cystitis so if I don’t go I have more pain. I’ll give raisins a try and keep my fingers crossed.

  5. tony
    Reply

    If raisins work will prunes also work for nocturia?

  6. Lisa
    Brooklyn, NY
    Reply

    I have been exhausted during the day after getting up 5 to 6 times a night to urinate. Was in bed last night, dreading the long night ahead, when I ran across this discussion. I figured, why not? Ate a handful of raisins and started reading a book in bed. Eight hours later, woke up the best I have felt in months. It works, and that’s pretty amazing. Thank you!!!!

  7. Anupam
    new york city
    Reply

    Golden, or Black, or Green Raisin ? Which one works good or all are the same ? If possible, please let us know. Thank you.

    • Anupam
      Reply

      Sorry, I forgot to ask. Do you wash raisins before eating ? Usually I wash before eating any dry fruits.

  8. Patricia
    Melbourne, FL
    Reply

    Just started eating about 25 raisins at bedtime and instead of four trips to bathroom, down to two, so well worth it to me. As far as gaining weight eating raisins, that alone can not be what caused that lady to gain four pounds. You have to eat 3500 calories more than you burn to gain a pound and as an earlier comment stated, there are three calories in a raisin. That person was either exercising much, much less, or eating a lot more of something with high calories. She should give raisins a try again and watch calories of what else she eats and how much she exercises.

    • Kelly
      Newport, OR
      Reply

      I think the reason for the weight gain is because with less urination the body is staying more Hydrated, and it’s just water weight.

  9. Lynne
    Reply

    It worked the first time for me, and you do not need a lot of raisins. I would call it a “pinch”, not a handful. I take about 10 raisins before bed. I used to wake up every 2 hours to urinate. Now I don’t. If I have to get up once its because I needed 1 or 2 more raisins. I also take some in the morning and they help OAB throughout the day. It’s almost a miracle.

  10. Virginia
    GA
    Reply

    Raisins work for me, I just have to remember to eat them. I count out 12 and that’s enough, and doesn’t affect my weight.

  11. henry
    Durham, NC
    Reply

    What happened to the gin plus raisins remedy that was discussed here last year. This certainly works too.

  12. Angela
    St. Louis, MO
    Reply

    I searched the article but didn’t see if the raisins are supposed to be dark or golden? Or does it matter?

    • Angela
      Reply

      I know gin-soaked raisins are supposed to be golden as referenced by some of the readers, but wasn’t sure if the raisins also need to be golden for nocturia.

  13. Robert
    Reply

    I am 64 and have tried the raisin remedy on several occasions in the past but was ineffective. My need to get up to go to the bathroom varies from 1 to 3 times during the night. It depends on what I did during the day (if I ran or used a lot of energy over a two hour or more period) and what I ate, especially in the evening. I found that eating salty snacks before going to bed guarantees that I’ll get up twice. Drinking hot or ice tea in the evening sometimes increases the need to get up at least twice during the night. I am not overweight, do not have diabetes, and I am not on any medications. It seems my “nocturia” is determined by activity and eating habits of the day.

  14. Jon
    NC
    Reply

    Same as with Vick’s on the feet – if raisins work for you, great.
    Here’s another idea , one that I’ve used for years – – – just use a bedside urinal. Males don’t even have to get vertical, but even though females do, they still avoid the waking-up trek to the bathroom. I get the task over with and back to sleep in a couple of minutes.

  15. Isabel
    CA
    Reply

    I haven’t tried raisins but will now. I wonder if dried blueberries would work just as well? Blueberries are said to be very good for you.

  16. Lynn
    Atlanta, GA
    Reply

    Several readers commented on weight gain from using raisins. Wanting to check on this, I looked at several health and diet web sites which show that a tablespoon of raisins contain 30 calories. A teaspoon of raisins is how much I add to my morning oatmeal which seems like a reasonable quantity. I know this is not very scientific, and subject to individual preferences, but it seems that a spoonful of raisins does not contain enough calories to do anyone much harm. I would suggest moderation in the quantity of raisins and see what happens.

  17. Jeff
    Texas
    Reply

    I am a retired dentist. I would remind anyone eating raisins before bedtime to follow their usual oral hygiene regime after eating the raisins. Going to bed with sugar on your teeth will cause increased cavities.

    • Bert
      Castro valley, CA
      Reply

      Good reminder! Thanks!!

  18. Fred
    Hardy, VA
    Reply

    I too have nocturia, having had to get up several times a night to pee, due to an enlarged prostate. Even a Saw Palmetto was of limited help until an alternative medicine physician suggested the following:
    a. Saw Palmetto with Pygeum and Pumpkin Seed Oil
    b.Beta Sitosterol which has been used in Europe with great successful for year.

    These two pills taken at breakfast have reduced my nighttime nocturia to just one per night, as it may reduce my enlarged prostate.

  19. Rick
    Raleigh
    Reply

    Raisins are at best a placebo. The headline could have as accurately be “Men who don’t get up to pee at night more likely to wet bed”

    And always remember: life is a sure predictor of certain death.

  20. Susan
    Reply

    I find it hard to believe a person would put on weight eating a few raisins before bedtime but I suppose it is possible. I usually don’t get up to use bathroom during the night once I started on a CPAP but seems strange in Mich and WIs. I don’t but I do down here in FL more often. My motto is “whatever works”.

  21. Jerry
    Reply

    Sleep apnea can be a medical condition that causes frequent nighttime urination. After being diagnosed with severe apnea and treated using CPAP therapy the first night I sleep for a full 7 hours. Before treatment I was waking and passing large amounts of urine every 1-2 hours. Also my blood pressure went from high to normal, and my heart rate during exercise dropped by 20 heartbeats.

  22. Tina S.
    GA
    Reply

    I am only 41 years old but I have been suffering from nocturia for many, many years now and go to the bathroom anywhere from 3 to 4 times a night, every single night. I was researching a natural way to help a couple days ago and came across this site. I figured it was worth a try because I don’t want to be on medication, and my quality of life is horrible during the day because I feel so exhausted from lack of sleep. So I went out and bought some raisins yesterday and ate a handful last night right before bed, and I did not wake up one single time with feelings of urgency! I slept the entire night! I did not even have urgency when the alarm woke me up this morning but had a normal sensation to go to the bathroom. That has not happened in at least 10 years! I don’t know how or why this worked but I’m amazed by it and I am hoping that it will continue to work for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your article! :),

  23. Everton
    Trinidad west indies
    Reply

    I was looking for a solution for frequent urination and came upon this site first time i am hearing about this and will try it

  24. Raymond
    London, UK
    Reply

    Surely, some professional must know if raisins work for some to control urinating with enlarged prostate,what allows them to work. Being dried grapes it must be the chemicals in the grape or the process?

    Is it in the mind, or a real chemical process that causes it to work, if it does? I have for 17 years had prostate cancer, I wonder having the cancer has the same affect from raisins or not?

    Quite a few say it works, but no where can I find a professional commenting on how it works, I find this strange.

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