Deep Sleep and Bedwetting

Nov 02, 2022 | 3.5 minutes Read

Deep Sleep

Deep Sleep And Bedwetting Are Often Linked

Parents of children who wet the bed often report that their children are extremely deep sleepers.
A Swedish study published in 1998 in the British Journal of Urology found that 65% of parents of children with primary nocturnal enuresis described their children to be either very difficult or almost impossible to wake from sleep, compared to only 5% of parents of non-bedwetting children.
While being a heavy sleeper doesn’t mean your child will also deal with bedwetting, deep sleep is definitely something to pay close attention to for understand, managing, and treating your child’s bedwetting.

What Is The Link Between Deep Sleep And Bedwetting?

One of the main causes of Primary Nocturnal Enuresis is a mild neurological development delay that impacts the communication between the bladder and the brain via the nervous system.
In other words, your child’s bladder is still developing the ability to send a message to their brain that it is time to wake up when they need to go to the bathroom.

Because the signal their bladder is sending out is already weak, being a deep sleeper  makes it even less likely that the brain will receive that message before they wet the bed.
While the scientific link between deep sleep and bedwetting is still in its infancy, a research paper published in Pediatric Nephrology in 2011 identified a strong link between the area of the brain that is responsible for arousing the body from sleep (locus ceruleus) and the part of the brain that controls bladder function, which may explain the responses from the parents in the Swedish study.

Do BedWetting Alarms Work For Deep Sleepers?

Yes, bedwetting alarms can be very effective for deep sleepers as well as lighter sleepers… but you may need to help your child wake up during the first couple of weeks.

Most bedwetting alarms are designed to have enough volume that it can wake up the parents too, and some can even come with an additional alarm unit that you can keep with you so that you know when your child’s alarm has gone off.

The key to bedwetting alarms is for your child to wake up as soon as their alarm goes off. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time for your child to respond to the alarm, learning to wake up from a deep sleep can be tough.

By helping them get used to it during the first couple of weeks and waking them to go to the toilet their body will start to pay attention to the alarm and wake up on their own.

It can also help if you practice using the alarm with your child during the day. Set off the alarm with some water, and show them how to turn it off and make their way to the toilet while they are fully awake. This will help your child know what to do in the middle of the night when they wake up from their deep sleep.

Bedwetting And Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This might surprise you, but studies have shown that children with primary nocturnal enuresis are actually more likely to enjoy better quality sleep than children who don’t wet the bed.

For these children, bedwetting products like Goodnites® may be all they’ll need to keep their bed dry and wake up awesome while their body naturally develops out of their bedwetting phase.

But this isn’t always the case. One of the common physical causes of secondary enuresis is a sleeping disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OPA). Research published in 2003 by Associate Professor Lee Brooks studied 160 children with sleep apnea. 41% of these children also wet the bed at night. Doctors believe that children with OPA may wet the bed because they are not getting a good night of sleep and find it harder to wake up due to a full bladder.

So, while there is definitely a link between deep sleep and bedwetting, deep sleep can be a symptom of quality sleep, and also of restless sleep when it comes to sleep apnea. As a parent it is important to know when to seek advice about your child’s bedwetting.