A study carried out by Institute of Experimental Clinical Research, Denmark, shows that bedwetting children are 'normal sleepers'.1 Yet, why does it appear that most parents of bedwetting children feel their child sleeps deeply? Senior lecturer Tryggve Neveus at Uppsala Uiversity in Sweden suggests it is because these children can be so difficult to wake. Their sleep is 'normal' but their ability to arouse from the sleep is more problematic.2
It is therefore important to ensure that children who wet the bed aren't overtired and get good quality, sufficient sleep. Here is some information on how to get a better sleep and therefore wake up more easily.
- Limit eating two hours before bed. Digestion hinders sleeping as it requires a great deal of energy.3 Cutting back on food consumption before bed also stops the bowel from pressing against the bladder and reducing bladder capacity.4
- Sugar, soft drinks and caffeine before bed also hinder good quality sleep and can increase bedwetting.
- Milk can also increase the tendency for some children to wet the bed.
- Limit computer use before bed. The light from the screen, especially from tablets, has been found to significantly reduce levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle.5
- Set a regular time for bed and to wake up in the morning. Melatonin levels begin to increase approximately two hours before bedtime, so keeping a regular sleep schedule will aid the sleep cycle.5
- Set a regular and calm routine at bedtime so your child's body knows what activities lead to sleep.
- Ensure your child is getting enough sleep. Although children vary in the amount of sleep they need, parents often underestimate how much they should be getting for their age.
- According to the Sleep Health Foundation it is recommended that a child between the age of six and thirteen years has nine to eleven hours sleep.6 Lifestyle is also important to take into consideration. If your child has started school, is undertaking tests, has various activities during the week or is close to the end of term, he or she may need more sleep. If your child wakes up tired most mornings, this can also indicate insufficient sleep.
- Ideally the bedroom should be dark (and your child has no light coming in from the windows). A bright night light can hinder going to sleep and also affect quality of sleep.
Improving the amount and quality of sleep can lead to more dry nights. Another way to help children wake up to go to the toilet, is to increase their level of awareness at certain times in the night. This will be covered in the next blog.
1. Jens Peter Nørgaard, Jens Christian Djurhuus “The Pathophysiology of Enuresis in Children and Young Adults” Clin Pediatr (Phila). July 1993 vol. 32 no. 1 suppl 5-9
2. Nevéus T., Enuretic sleep: deep, disturbed or just wet? Pediatr Nephrol. 2008 Aug;23(8):1201-2. doi: 10.1007/s00467-008-0859-1. Epub 2008 May 15.
3. Crystal Saltrelli "Whats the Connection Between Sleep and Digestion, Blog, MARCH 11, 2010, accessesd 30 June 2006 http://livingwithgastroparesis.com/gastroparesis-sleep/
4. Mike Klawitter, School of Medicine and Public Health, Published 02/20/2009, accessed 30 June 2016 http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/wetting-the-bed-could-be-all-in-the-head/332
5. 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Sleep Hormone: Melatonin, Accessed 30 June 2016 http://blog.withings.com/2014/08/26/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-sleep-hormone-melatonin/
6. National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep/page/0/2, Accessed 30 June 2016