Is There a Relationship Between ADHD and Bedwetting?


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) are two conditions that significantly impact child development and self-esteem. While ADHD is characterised by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, bedwetting is an involuntary urination during sleep, typically seen in children. Research indicates that bedwetting is notably more prevalent in children with ADHD than in their peers. This article explores the possible connections between these two conditions and offers guidance on managing them effectively.

Exploring the Connection Between ADHD and Bedwetting

Delayed Central Nervous System Development

Both ADHD and bedwetting may stem from the delayed maturation of the central nervous system (CNS). This developmental delay can significantly impact the neural pathways responsible for bladder control. In children with ADHD, slower CNS development may delay the ability to control urination during sleep, often leading to bedwetting [1].

Inattentiveness and Missed Bladder Cues

Inattentiveness, a common symptom of ADHD, can significantly impair a child’s ability to notice and react to physical cues such as the need to urinate. Because of this distraction, even strong signals from a full bladder might not wake the child or prompt them to go to the bathroom, especially during deep sleep. This often results in bedwetting, as the child may not respond to the need to urinate until it’s too late [2].

Disrupted Sleep Patterns and Medication Effects

Sleep disturbances, commonly reported in children with ADHD, are a critical factor in bedwetting occurrences. Disrupted sleep can interfere with the sleep cycles during which the brain consolidates bladder control. To explore more on bedwetting and sleep cycles you might find our related discussion in the article ‘Deep Sleep and Bedwetting‘ helpful. 

Additionally, some ADHD medications, particularly stimulants, can impact bladder function by decreasing bladder capacity or increasing urine production. These medication effects can complicate maintaining bladder control throughout the night [3]. 

Genetic Links

Recent research has uncovered genetic links suggesting a shared predisposition for both bedwetting and ADHD. These studies indicate that genetic factors may influence neurological development or bladder muscle control, impacting both conditions. Observations of genetic overlap in families with multiple members experiencing either or both conditions hint at a hereditary component that could predispose individuals to these challenges [4]. For more detailed information on the genetic aspects of bedwetting, you might like to read our blog, ‘Is Bedwetting Genetic?‘.

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Management Strategies for Parents

Effectively managing both ADHD and bedwetting is crucial for maintaining a child’s self-esteem and overall well-being. Here are some streamlined strategies for parents:

  • Reassurance and Communication: Ensure your child feels supported and not at fault for conditions beyond their control. Regular reassurance and open conversations can help alleviate any associated stress [5].
  • Reviewing Medication: If your child is on ADHD medication, discuss with your healthcare provider whether it might be affecting nighttime bladder control. Adjustments may be necessary to minimise bedwetting [6].
  • Supportive Bedwetting Solutions: Each child is different, and the most effective approach will vary based on individual circumstances and requirements. While bedwetting alarms are beneficial, they often require a period of adaptation. Medications can deliver swift outcomes, but they may involve side effects and are not suitable for sustained use. Alternatively, programs like Stay Dry at Night offer a holistic and gentle method, cultivating enduring habits and enhancing emotional health. Many parents report that these programs also help their children become more relaxed at bedtime and fall asleep more quickly [7].

When to Seek Professional Help

Knowing when to seek help can ensure effective management of ADHD and bedwetting:

  • Frequency and Severity: Seek professional help if bedwetting is frequent and severe, as it may indicate more complex medical or psychological issues [8].
  • Ruling Out Other Medical Causes: Consult with your doctor or paediatrician to exclude other possible medical conditions causing bedwetting [9].
  • Persistent Bedwetting: If bedwetting persists despite your efforts, consider professional guidance. Programs like Stay Dry at Night offer comprehensive approaches tailored to address bedwetting.
Boy is comforted by mother.

A Positive Outlook: ADHD and Bedwetting Solutions

While there is a demonstrated relationship between ADHD and bedwetting, it’s crucial to understand that neither condition is inevitable nor untreatable, even with a genetic component. Encouraging a healthy sleep routine, addressing behavioural and medical needs, and maintaining open lines of communication can significantly improve outcomes.

If your child is experiencing challenges with ADHD and bedwetting, reaching out for advice is a proactive step towards improvement. At Stay Dry at Night, we offer personalized support and strategies tailored to meet your child’s unique needs.

Explore our gentle and effective Bedwetting Program or contact us for a private and confidential chat today. Together, we can ensure your child experiences drier and happier nights ahead.


  1. Tajima-Pozo, K., Zambrano-Enriquez, D., de Anta, L., Moron, M. D., Carrasco, J. L., & Lopez-Ibor, J. J. (2014). Exploring the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and developmental coordination disorder symptoms and nocturnal enuresis. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, 50(3), 258-262. DOI: 10.1111/jpc.12503
  2. Owens, J. (2005). The ADHD and sleep conundrum: A review. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 26(4), 312-322.
  3.  Egger, H. J., Kieling, C., & Rohde, L. A. (2011). Impact of psychostimulant medication on urinary functions in children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Journal of Pediatric Urology, 7(6), 672-679. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2011.07.011
  4. Caldwell, P. H., Deshpande, A. V., & von Gontard, A. (2013). Management of nocturnal enuresis. BMJ, 347, f6259. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f6259
  5. Moffatt, M. E. K. (2008). Nocturnal enuresis: Psychosocial implications and management. Pediatric Drugs, 10(4), 213-218. DOI: 10.2165/00148581-200810040-00003
  6. Robson, W. L. (2009). Clinical practice: Evaluation and management of enuresis. The New England Journal of Medicine, 360(14), 1429-1436. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcp0804877
  7. Nevéus, T. (2011). Nocturnal enuresis—theoretic background and practical guidelines. Pediatric Nephrology, 26(8), 1207-1214. DOI: 10.1007/s00467-011-1830-7
  8. Joinson, C., Heron, J., Butler, R., & von Gontard, A. (2006). Psychological differences between children with and without nocturnal enuresis. The Journal of Urology, 176(1), 205-210. DOI: 10.1016/S0022-5347(06)00378-9
  9. Von Gontard, A., & Nevéus, T. (2006). Management of disorders of bladder and bowel control in childhood. Springer.
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Ginny Laver

Ginny Laver BA (Hons), MSc, NLP, Dip. THP is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner who specialises in helping children learn how to stop bedwetting naturally.

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