Bedwetting Causes and Solutions

What causes bedwetting?

Understanding the causes of bedwetting (Nocturnal Enuresis) can be confusing and conflicting.  There is no one reason why any child over the age of five still wets the bed. Bedwetting can result from various medical, lifestyle, environmental, and physical factors. To help your child stop bedwetting, it is essential to explore these different aspects enabling you to identify the most effective solution for your child. 

It is quite normal for some children to wet the bed until they are around six years old, and a few children take even longer. It is estimated that one in fourteen (estimates vary) ten-year-olds regularly wet the bed. Generally, boys wet the bed more than girls.

The first step is to visit your doctor to check for any underlying medical causes. While there is currently no medication that cures bedwetting, if the condition is causing significant distress or issues, it is important to seek help rather than just waiting for your child to outgrow it.

This proactive approach helps address both the physical and emotional impacts, providing your child with the best chance for success.

Medical help with Nocturnal Enuresis

Nocturnal Enuresis

The clinical name for bedwetting is Nocturnal Enuresis. There are two types of Nocturnal Enuresis: Primary and Secondary. Primary Nocturnal Enuresis is when the child has never been consistently dry at night. Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis is when the child has been dry for at least six months and has started wetting the bed again.

What are the medical reasons for bedwetting?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in children. According to Queensland Children’s Hospital, around 10% of girls and 2% of boys will have had a UTI by age seven. They are caused by bacteria that enter the body and travel up the urinary tract which becomes inflamed and uncomfortable causing the need to wee.

Signs and symptoms of a UTI include bedwetting, daytime wetting, pain during weeing, and frequently needing to urinate.

Type 1 Diabetes

The kidneys respond to high levels of glucose in the bloodstream by flushing out the extra glucose in urine (wee). A child with diabetes needs to urinate more frequently and in larger volumes.

Low Levels of Anti-Diuretic Hormone (ADH)

When we are asleep, we produce an Anti-Diuretic Hormone known as ADH that decreases the amount of urine we produce at night. It is possible that some children who wet the bed or wake up regularly through the night to go to the toilet, may not produce as much ADH.

Constipation

When a child’s bowels are blocked with hard stool, it can exert pressure on the bladder, potentially causing bedwetting. Additionally, if stool remains in the bowels for an extended period, it can weaken the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor area. 

According to The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity ERIC, about one in three children experience constipation. This medical condition requires appropriate treatment to prevent it from worsening.

To gain a more in-depth understanding, read my article on the link between constipation and bedwetting.

Neurogenic Bladders

Less common are children affected by cerebral palsy, spinal cord disorders, or neurogenic bladders (a problem in which a person lacks bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord, or nerve condition.)

Boy suffers from Nocturnal Enuresis

Brain, Bladder Connection

One medical reason for bedwetting involves the improper firing of signals between the brain and the bladder. In some children, the brain fails to receive and properly process the signals indicating that the bladder is full during the night, preventing them from waking up to go to the bathroom. This disruption in neural communication can be a significant factor in bedwetting.

Allergies, Asthma, or Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB)

There is a correlation between bedwetting and Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB). SDB is a group of disorders characterised by abnormal breathing patterns, or insufficient ventilation during sleep. Symptoms of SDB in children can include sleep apnea, heavy snoring, crowded teeth, mouth breathing, and allergies.

Children with allergic rhinitis seem to be more prone to wetting the bed. There is also an association between asthma and nocturnal enuresis. To learn more about allergies and their connection to sleep disruption, visit our blog Do Allergies Cause Bedwetting?

Is your child a “deep sleeper?”

Many parents describe their bedwetting child as a deep sleeper. Whilst there does appear to be an association between bedwetting and deep sleep, not all deep sleepers wet the bed.

Boy has Primary Nocturnal Enuresis

Other Causes of Bedwetting

Weak Pelvic Floor

Pelvic doctors have found that weak or underdeveloped pelvic muscles and ligaments that support bladder control can cause daytime and night-time wetting.

 Vitamin D Deficiency

Recent studies suggest that Vitamin D deficiency could be linked to bedwetting, particularly in children.

ADHD

According to a study carried out in 2014, children with ADHD have a 270% higher incidence of nocturnal enuresis.

Is Bedwetting Genetic?

Bedwetting can run in the family. According to Urology Care Foundation, 50% of all children with Nocturnal Enuresis have a parent who struggled with bedwetting. This increases to 75% if both parents had enuresis. Often, other relatives may have had problems with bedwetting, though you may not be aware of it!

Be compassionate with your child

Children are not being lazy or defiant by wetting the bedit’s a source of embarrassment and shame, and they have no idea why they do it or how to stop. Compassion and a full understanding of what causes bed-wetting can be one of the best ways to help! 

Little sheep

Bedwetting Solutions

First and foremost, staying calm is crucial. Reassure your child that bedwetting is not their fault. It’s important to consult your doctor to rule out any underlying medical causes.

According to Benioff Children’s Hospital, while there is no medicine that cures nocturnal enuresis outright, medications can manage symptoms temporarily. They are particularly useful for situations like sleepovers or school camp, helping to control bedwetting temporarily. However, once medication is discontinued, bedwetting typically resumes unless the child has outgrown it naturally.

Various bedwetting alarms are available on the market at different price points. These bedwetting solutions require a commitment from the entire family, as the alarm may awaken everyone when activated. The child must start wetting for the alarm to go off. 

Bladder training programs aim to increase both bladder capacity and the child’s ability to recognize the need to urinate.

Our ‘Stay Dry at Night’ program offers a comprehensive online solution that helps children develop brain-bladder communication, informs parents about factors contributing to bedwetting, and provides guidance on lifestyle adjustments. Integrating medical research and cognitive techniques, along with in-depth information, it empowers families to effectively tackle bedwetting from the comfort of their home

Studies show that supplementation with vitamin D and omega-3 can reduce the number of wet nights among 7-15-year-old children. Click here to see the study and find out more about this interesting bedwetting solution.

Closing Thoughts on Wetting the Bed

Children develop the capacity to stay dry at night at different ages. For some, this milestone comes early, while others may take longer—even within the same family.

When asleep, the child’s brain may not know the bladder needs to be emptied; or cannot consistently interpret signals from the bladder. In other words, communication between the brain and bladder has not been sufficiently established.

The child may not have a practical understanding about how the bladder works or how to consciously control muscles associated with bladder function. They may not know how to be in control of the body, and how the brain and bladder need to communicate to wake up to go to the toilet. Furthermore, he or she may have lost confidence that they can indeed become dry.

Understanding these challenges is vital for fostering empathy and patience. It’s important to reassure children that bedwetting is a common part of growing up. By providing a supportive environment and addressing the issue with appropriate interventions, parents can significantly help their children overcome this phase confidently and comfortably. Remember, bedwetting is usually a temporary condition, and with the right approach, it can be effectively treated.

To learn more why it is insufficient to simply wake your child up to pee, visit our “Should I Wake My Child to Pee?” blog. 

Three children want to find a bedwetting solution

Stop Bedwetting with Stay Dry at Night

Stay Dry at Night is a unique and compassionate bedwetting solution that aims to get the brain and bladder communicating throughout the night. 

The program supplies a wealth of information about how to stop bedwetting, looking at various bedwetting causes and solutions, including how foods, drinks, and sleep can have an impact. When necessary, you are provided with cognitive and/or physical exercises to strengthen the muscles that support bladder control. Furthermore, you are provided with help and support, so you have someone to email if you have questions. 

Some children become totally dry within 2 days of starting the program, with others it can take a few weeks. Children who don’t become dry, often substantially reduce the number of times they wet the bed. Parents and children are amazed at how natural, beautiful, and effective the recordings are in reducing or stopping bedwetting. 

You are provided with standard or custom-made recordings that feature visualization, relaxation, hypnosis, metaphors, and confidence-building techniques produced for your child which can be used in the comfort of your own home, without having face-to-face therapy. Children love listening to their recordings at night whilst drifting off to sleep. 

The program comes with a diary, information, and an exclusive members’ area full of bedwetting resources, strategies, and helpful management tips. There is also a 90-day money-back guarantee. 

Learn more about our award-winning bedwetting solution today or read on for more quick tips to help your child stop bedwetting. 

Bedwetting Research & Resources

References

Blog

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The Stay Dry at Night Members’ Area, which all Stay Dry at Night customers have exclusive access to, gives even more information, in the form of weekly articles and helpful tips that have helped many children stop wetting the bed.

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