Take the Bedwetting Quiz!
How much do you know about bedwetting? Click here to test your knowledge
with our 12-question true/false quiz. Here are two of the questions:
#6: About 5% of 5-year-olds wet the bed. True or false?
#8: Some kids wet the bed because a hormonal imbalance triggers overproduction of urine overnight. True or false?
At the end of the quiz you'll receive simple answers — true or false — for each question, as well as your score. Detailed answers, with links to scientific studies and helpful blog posts, are provided below.
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How'd you score? Here's an explanation of the answers.
ANSWER #1: False.
Deep sleep does not cause bedwetting, because children with healthy, stable bladders simply don’t need to pee overnight.
When a person, child or adult, does feel the urge to pee overnight, it’s because the bladder has become overactive, spasming when it’s not full. In children, virtually all bladder overactivity is triggered by constipation: the poop-stuffed rectum presses against and irritates the bladder. In adults, bladder overactivity is typically caused by changes to bladder function that happen with age, though constipation can contribute.
ANSWER #2 : False
There’s no such thing as nighttime potty training. You cannot “train” your child to achieve dryness overnight any more than you can — or should — train your baby to crawl or train your toddler to walk.
Overnight dryness occurs naturally, typically by age 4. If it doesn’t, this likely means your child is chronically constipated. You can resolve the bedwetting by treating the underlying constipation, but you can’t otherwise fast-forward to the day your child wakes up dry for good.
Learn more: “Nighttime Potty Training is Not a Thing.”
ANSWER #3: False.
Studies show the bladders of bedwetting children do tend to have a smaller capacity than the bladders of kids who are dry at night, but it’s not because the bedwetting children have small bladders. It’s because they are constipated, and the stool-stuffed rectum is squishing the bladder, compromising its capacity.
A study comparing the bladder size of bedwetting and dry children is worthless unless you x-ray the children for constipation. X-rays clearly show why these kids can’t hold enough urine overnight: they’re being flattened.
Learn more: “When to X-ray a Child for Constipation.”
ANSWER #4: True.
Both daytime pee accidents (enuresis) and bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) are caused by chronic constipation. In both cases, the rectum, stretched by stool build-up, aggravates the bladder, causing it to hiccup and empty without warning.
The vast majority of children with daytime pee accidents also wet the bed. Children who wet the bed every night are more likely to also have daytime accidents than kids who wet the bed infrequently, research shows.
When constipation is treated aggressively, daytime pee accidents resolve before bedwetting.
Learn more: “Why Daytime Accidents Resolve Before Bedwetting.”
ANSWER #5: False.
Fluid restriction will accomplish nothing and may actually make bedwetting worse by exacerbating constipation.
Children with healthy bladders can drink water before bed and stay dry; kids with overactive bladders cannot stay dry even if they restrict fluid intake. Children who wet the bed should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids.
Learn more: “27 Untruths About Bedwetting.”
ANSWER #6: False.
Studies show between 16% and 20% of 5-year-olds wet the bed. However, “common” should not be confused with “normal.” In toilet trained children, bedwetting is a red flag for chronic constipation and should be treated promptly and aggressively.
Learn more: “Behind the U.S. Potty Problem Epidemic.”
ANSWER #7: False.
For centuries bedwetting has been attributed to psychological issues, and children with enuresis are often referred to therapists. But this theory is unsupported by evidence.
For example, the most recent version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), published in 2013, states: “Enuresis can be triggered by separation from a parent, the birth of a sibling or family conflict.” The evidence cited is a single study published in an Indian medical journal that itself cites no evidence.
However, the DSM is correct that bedwetting “can create severe psychological stress for a child” and “should be treated.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics also perpetuates the “stress” myth (the child may be “responding to changes or stresses going on at home”) but cites no evidence.
ANSWER #8: False.
The theory: some children don’t produce enough ADH, a hormone that prompts the kidneys to release less water overnight; by restoring the hormone balance with medication called DDVAP, the child will stop cranking out too much urine and stop wetting.
The problem: there’s no convincing evidence that bedwetting children underproduce ADH or overproduce urine. (The exception would be kids with diabetes insipidus, an extremely rare hormonal disorder that does cause an overproduction of urine overnight).
If urine overproduction actually caused bedwetting, DDVAP would be an excellent cure. But it has a dismal success rate.
Learn more: "Bedwetting Medication Doesn’t Work — Here’s What Does.”
ANSWER #9: False.
Holding pee is extremely unhealthy and exacerbates bedwetting. A child who ignores the urge to pee develops a thickened bladder that is more prone to irritation and accidents.
Kids with enuresis should pee about every two hours during the day. A watch with a vibrating alarm (aka a “potty watch”) can remind children at school to pee frequently.
If the child’s teachers restrict restroom access during the school day, parents should speak to the teachers and school nurse to arrange for an exception.
ANSWER #10: True.
Research does show kids are more likely to wet the bed if their parents did. But this doesn’t mean bedwetting itself is hereditary. What is passed on: the propensity toward constipation and the bladder’s sensitivity to a stretched rectum.
In some kids, a stool-stuffed rectum may have no effect on the bladder, whereas in another family, even a slightly stretched rectum may be enough to trigger accidents.
The problem with focusing on the heredity/bedwetting connection is that it may prompt parents to say, “Well, I wet the bed until I was 10, so I’m sure my son will come around.” Delaying treatment won’t serve the child.
Learn more: “Why Some Kids Outgrow Bedwetting and Others Don’t.”
Answer #11: False.
Discomfort won’t help a child overcome bedwetting and may leave the child feeling shamed or blamed for a condition that is not their fault. A bedwetting child should be kept comfortable overnight.
Learn more: "Bedwetting and Accidents Aren't Your Fault."
ANSWER #12: False.
Though most bedwetting children do spontaneously stop — eventually — many don’t.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that “only” 2% to 3% of children continue to have problems with bedwetting as adults,” but that translates to about 840,000 U.S. teens and tweens, not to mention well over 2 million American adults.
Kids with more severe symptoms — who wet the bed nightly and also have daytime accidents — have a “significantly greater chance” of bedwetting as adults if they are not treated, research shows.