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Sleep Disorders: What Causes Bedwetting?

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While bedwetting can be a symptom of an underlying disease, a large majority of children who wet the bed have no underlying disease that explains their bedwetting. In fact, an underlying condition is identified in only about 1% of children who routinely wet the bed.

That does not mean that the child who wets the bed can control it or is doing it on purpose. Children who wet are not lazy, willful, or disobedient. Bedwetting is most often a developmental issue.

Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

For College Students, Yes, Sleep Matters

Q: My friend says I'm ruining my health by pulling all-nighters, but I say it's no big deal. Who's right? A: You're kidding, right? People do vary slightly in their sleep needs, but the idea that a person can exist on three or four -- or no -- hours of sleep a night is FALSE. In fact, you're in the crowd of college students who are chronically sleep-deprived -- which research links to a variety of health problems. "Lack of sleep impairs your ability to learn, remember, and process new facts,"...

Read the For College Students, Yes, Sleep Matters article > >

Types of Bedwetting

There are 2 types of bedwetting: primary and secondary. Primary means bedwetting that has been ongoing since early childhood without a break. A child with primary bedwetting has never been dry at night for any significant length of time. Secondary bedwetting is bedwetting that starts up after the child has been dry at night for a significant period of time, at least 6 months.

What Causes Primary Bedwetting?

The cause is likely due to one or a combination of the following:

  • The child cannot yet hold urine for the entire night.
  • The child does not waken when his or her bladder is full.
  • The child produces a large amount of urine during the evening and night hours.
  • The child has poor daytime toilet habits. Many children habitually ignore the urge to urinate and put off urinating as long as they possibly can. Parents usually are familiar with the leg crossing, face straining, squirming, squatting, and groin holding that children use to hold back urine.
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