Bed Wetting

Bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) is a complex condition that can often be a source of worry for parents and children, creating extra stress for those involved. For parents, the main concern is often the emotional and social effects on their children. For the children, they can experience feelings of embarrassment, leading to low self-esteem and social confidence. Adding to the situation are other issues such as consequent sleep disruption, laundry workload and the frustration not knowing how to help the child.

Bedwetting happens when the bladder empties without permission during sleep.  Usually children will learn to have day time control of the bladder first before they learn night time dryness. This development in children occurs at different rates and some children may experience the occasional accident until the age of 7 or 8.

Bedwetting is very common with approximately 1 in 5 children in Australia wetting the bed.

What causes bedwetting? 

The majority of enuretics (90%) do not have either anatomical or psychological problems causing the issue (contrary to popular belief). For most enuretics, the primary source of the issue is unusually deep sleep. These are normal, healthy children who have not learned to activate the appropriate reflex system during sleep. Typically, when a person sleeps and pressure is built up inside the bladder, a signal is sent to the brain. Among enuretics, the signal is not recognized by the subconscious reflex system and instead of contracting the sphincter muscle, which is the circular muscle that keeps the bladder closed, the child relaxes the muscle and urinates during sleep.

There are three main causes of bedwetting:

  • the inability to waken to a full bladder, the natural waking mechanism is not trained
  • the bladder becomes overactive at night and cannot store urine
  • the kidneys make a large amount of urine at night and the bladder has difficulty holding this
  • Stress, the pressure or tension that results from a demanding situation (emotional, physical, psychological or a combination)
  • Some illnesses are linked with bed wetting, however most children who wet the bed do not have major health issues.

Bedwetting is NOT caused by:

  • being young for your age
  • laziness
  • bad behaviour
  • rebelliousness, or
  • drinking after dinner

How can bed wetting be treated?

  • Bed wetting alarms which alert the child when there is a small leak detected in their underwear
  • Acupuncture/ Kinesiology/ Cranio Sacral Balancing to work on creating a better communication between the urinogenitary system and the brain
  • Homeopathy to help to support constitutional weaknesses
  • Be patient and also involve your child in the process of trying to resolve the problem
  • Avoid foods high in sugar, carbonated and caffeinated beverages
  • Encourage regular bathroom visits during the day. Your child should try to go at least 5 times per day and just before bed.