50 Shades of Sleep: Dealing with Bed Wetting


50 Shades of SleepBurlingtonVT Moms Blog is partnering with Phoenix Physical Therapy to bring you our latest series titled “50 Shades of Sleep”, about…you guessed it….sleep.  Like an elusive treasure, we find ourselves obsessing about sleep not only for ourselves but for our children as well.  Although we may not consciously recognize it we are constantly making decisions surrounding the subject of sleep.  Is it OK to co-sleep?  Can babies really be trained to sleep?  What are night terrors?  When do you move your child from your bed to the bassinet or to his own crib or into his own bed?  Does the thought of SIDS scare everyone?  Is it normal for kids to wet the bed and up to what age?  And does it all change when they get older?  Our goal through this series is to invite you into an open conversation about all things sleep, and to acknowledge that no matter your struggles or choices, you are never alone.

Dealing With Bed Wetting

Does your child still wet the bed?

Bedwetting is a common yet very frustrating problem for children and their parents.  Bedwetting can often be associated with a family history of bedwetting.  If one parent wet the bed as a child, their child has a 44% chance of having the same problem.  If both parents wet the bed as children, the incidence increases to 77% likelihood of the child having the same problem.  Even without a family history, the child can have a 15% chance of wetting the bed, medically called nocturnal enuresis.


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There can be many reasons that can contribute to this problem, but often it is a matter of the child being a deep sleeper.  Studies support the notion that bedwetters often sleep soundly and are difficult to arouse so that the bladder signals are ignored because of deep sleep.  Your child’s physician can help determine the cause of your child’s symptom if necessary.


By age of 10, 95% of children are dry at night.  Typically, girls are dry by age 6 whereas boys are usually dry by age 7.  Most children start to get dry nights by the age of 4 or 5. There are bedwetting alarms that can be purchased on the web through bedwettingstore.com, if parents want to try this avenue.  The battery operated alarm is attached to the child and will beep as the child begins to wet, hopefully waking the child before a large leak occurs. There is medication that some physicians will prescribe  that promotes the production of an anti-diuretic hormone that produces more concentrated urine, and some pediatric urologists will recommend a surgical procedure that involves urethral dilation.  Here at Phoenix Physical Therapy we offer a non-invasive treatment that utilizes computer signals to teach the child to recognize his or her control over the muscles involved in bladder control.
Biofeedback is the generic term for the computer assisted therapy offered at Phoenix PT.  It utilizes a muscle signal to teach a process that involves voluntary control over the muscles that control bladder filling and emptying.  It can be a fun process for the child as the child learns to manage these symptoms that often keep the child away from sleepovers and summer camps.  It empowers the child to learn control over a process the child otherwise thought was out of control.

There are other behavioral interventions that can also help with night time bladder control:

*Limiting fluids after dinner is one option, encouraging the child to hydrate during the day and not wait until after school or evening to consume fluids.

*Caffeine, such as soda, increases urine production and can interfere with night time control.

*Managing bowels is another option.  If your child is constipated, the full colon will interfere with bladder signals and further contribute to the incontinence.

*Make sure your child takes adequate toilet time prior to bed to completely empty the bladder.  Some children skip the toilet before bed, others rush through the process and don’t empty the bladder completely.

If your child has a learning issue, there is a greater chance of having a bedwetting issue.  Learning control with the computer visual, detailed behavioral interventions and specific exercises might be what is needed to help your child gain control over this embarrassing and often limiting process.

Discuss this problem with your child’s physician and if treatment is indicated, the staff at Phoenix Physical Therapy is ready to help.  Children who can follow directions and sit quietly are good candidates for treatment.

50 Shades of Sleep


[typography font=”Satisfy” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#381b5e”]Written By Jane Kaufman[/typography] PT, M.Ed, BCB-MPD

janeJane has been practicing as a physical therapist for more then thirty-five years.  Jane has managed physical therapy departments and practiced in a variety of settings throughout her career.  For the past fifteen years she has specialized in the treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.  In 2003 Jane founded Phoenix Physical Therapy, PLC in South Burlington, Vermont for the purpose of treating men, women and children with pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence.  She became BCIA certified in PMDB in 2005.  Today Phoenix Physical Therapy has three locations and serves a patient community spread across three states.  Jane is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at The University of Vermont.  She provides presentations to Medical Grand Rounds and speaks frequently to local special interest groups.  In addition to practice management, lectures and patient care, Jane offers clinical consultation, training workshops and mentors health care professionals working toward BCIA certification.  Currently, Jane and her staff are collaborating on research with the UVM College of Medicine to further knowledge in the field of sexual dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence and quality of life.


  1. In most cases bedwetting is caused by either constipation or bad potty habits during the day. Kids may not always display signs of constipation but their colon may engorged with stool (this will require an x-ray). If this is the case, the stool will put pressure on the bladder. The second biggest issue is children withholding for whatever reason (soapless dispensers, bathroom-pass limits, etc….) . This can lead to many problems including abdominal pain, constipation and enuresis.


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