My eight-year-old son still wets the bed regularly at night. Do you have any advice on how to help him get over this? I don’t get angry with him, he is not allowed to have water before bed, he goes to the bathroom before he goes to bed … but none of this is working. My husband said he wet the bed until he was 12. Is this sort of thing hereditary?
– Meagan from North Carolina
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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I don’t know of any studies confirming that this tendency to wet the bed is hereditary, but we have had a number of reports of this problem running in families. We had that in my own family. Let me see if I can give you a little insight.
The body has a mechanism of suppressing the process of urination while we sleep. Notice that when you wake up, you all of a sudden need to go to the bathroom. Why didn’t you do it while you were asleep? The reason is that your body suppresses that process while you are asleep. In some children it seems that the suppression doesn’t work so well.
Also, the urge to urinate should trigger waking up. According to the Mayo Clinic, the nerves that control the bladder may be slow to mature, or your child may be a particularly deep sleeper.
I have a couple of suggestions you could try.
If your son snores at all, it would be worth checking to see if he has sleep apnea. This is one of the possibilities mentioned by the Mayo Clinic. In sleep apnea, tissues in the mouth will block the airway. When the body is thus deprived of oxygen, it will cause a momentary awakening, usually so brief that the person doesn’t even remember it. But in that momentary awakening, that could open up the possibility of urinating. There is a new system called the Vivos system for treating sleep apnea that is particularly suitable for children. It uses orthodontic appliances to widen the oral cavity, which can prevent sleep apnea.
If that’s not the case with your boy, another possible solution would be to wake him up during the night to go to the bathroom.
Or, finally, you can just work around it with a night-time pullup panty and wait until he grows out of it. Most of these reports of childhood bed-wetting indicate that the child will outgrow this in the teen years. In one case in my family, there was an occasional problem even into the early college years.
– Dr. Hall
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