What causes bedwetting?

Bedwetting is a very common problem. It is rarely caused by an underlying medical condition, and is most often just a delay in a child’s normal maturation specific to the control of nighttime urination. Almost all children who wet their beds, even those in their teens, are perfectly normal in every other way. Several factors can play a role.

Having parents who were bedwetters

Genetics plays a clear role in bedwetting. If one or both parents were bedwetters there is a much higher likelihood the child will also have this issue. It is not unusual to find relatives who struggled with bedwetting as children.

Being a deep sleeper

Children who wet their beds are deep sleepers and the communication between their bladder and their brain is not strong enough to wake them. Studies show that these children are difficult to wake up.


Producing a large amount of urine

Bedwetting children tend to produce larger amounts of urine at nighttime versus other children. This can result in the bed being completely soaked just a couple of hours after going to bed and/or bedwetting episodes several times every night. These children often do not produce as much of an antidiuretic hormone as non-bedwetters.

Having an overactive bladder or smaller bladder capacity

Some bedwetting children may have overactive bladders that contract more easily with less control, and therefore cannot hold as much urine. There is evidence that children who do not respond to specific medication that reduces urine production tend to have smaller than normal bladder capacity. As a child grows, the bladder also grows, which is one of the factors that helps children outgrow bedwetting.

Having constipation

There may be a relationship between chronic constipation and bedwetting. Treatment of constipation may help some children with bedwetting. A bowel that is full will put pressure on the bladder, which reduces the amount of urine the bladder can hold.

Children who wet their beds cannot do anything to control their urination while they are asleep. They are not doing it on purpose and it is not related to laziness or disobedience. Avoid any punishment or anger. Instead, give plenty of encouragement and support.

Learn about the issues related to outgrowing bedwetting

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