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General Information

Bedwetting is a type of parasomnia, or a sleep disorder causing undesired activities or behaviors during sleep. Also called enuresis, bedwetting is common in young children while their brains and bladders mature. Most kids can control their bladder during sleep by ages 5 to 7. If a child still wets the bed after age 7, bedwetting becomes a sleep disorder.

The condition is classified by primary or secondary:

  • Primary bedwetting – An older child wets the bed at least twice a week and has never stayed dry in the last six months.
  • Secondary bedwetting – An older child has stayed dry for the last six months, but has started wetting the bed at least twice a week for at least three months. Adults can also develop secondary bedwetting.

Dealing with bedwetting can be frustrating for children and adults alike. Goshen Sleep Disorders Center is here to help. If you have trouble staying dry overnight, take our sleep disorders risk assessment to learn more about the probability of developing a sleep disorder like bedwetting.

You can also talk with your primary care provider about a referral to Goshen Sleep Disorders Center, where you can receive treatment from a board certified sleep specialist. We see patients aged 13 and older.

Causes of bedwetting in children and adults

What causes bedwetting isn’t fully understood, but health experts know that it’s more common in boys and has a strong family link.

Other factors that may contribute to wetting the bed include:

  • Small bladder size
  • Slow bladder development
  • Sleeping very deeply and being difficult to waken
  • Not having enough of the hormone vasopressin, which decreases urine production during the night

Secondary bedwetting can be the result of social or mental stress or another medical condition, such as diabetes or a bladder infection. Adults can also develop bedwetting from conditions such as heart failure, depression and dementia.

How to stop wetting the bed

Most children eventually outgrow bedwetting. In the meantime, you can help your child with the following behavior modification strategies:

  • Limit fluids in the evening and use the bathroom right before bed.
  • Periodically wake your child up during the night to use the bathroom.
  • Create a positive reinforcement with a reward system for dry nights. A negative reaction or punishment for bedwetting can make the problem worse or last longer.
  • Use a moisture alarm that goes off when the child begins to urinate.

Goshen Sleep Disorders Center can make recommendations that are personalized to the unique needs of you and your family. Talk to your primary care provider about a referral to our sleep center.

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