What is bedwetting ?

Bedwetting is involuntary wetting whilst asleep. The medical term used is nocturnal enuresis. Bedwetting is common. It is more common in boys than girls and often runs in families.

Most children by the age of 3 can feel the sensation of a full bladder and respond to the need to void during the day but bladder control at night usually takes a little longer.

Bedwetting often spontaneously resolves as the child gets older but whilst spontaneous resolution is often observed with children with mild or moderate wetting, it is not necessarily the case for children suffering from severe bedwetting and children over 10 years of age.


Some children have never been dry at night (defined as primary enuresis) while some will wet the bed again at night while they have been previously dry for a period of 6 months or more (defined as secondary enuresis).

Enuresis can be mild (wetting the bed once or twice a week), moderate (3-6 nights a week) or severe (every night).

Wetting the bed at night is not the result of a child being naughty or lazy. It is thought to be the consequence of one or a combination of the following factors: Inability to wake during sleep in response to need to void (inability to wake up to bladder signal), excessive production of urine at night (lack of hormonal peak at night –vasopressin) and reduced bladder capacity.

It is also known that presence of constipation, urine tract infection can exacerbate bedwetting.


Bedwetting can have a significant impact on a child’s life: loss of opportunities for social activities such as sleep over, school trips, guilt and embarrassment which can lead to low self-esteem. Equally it has also a significant impact on the family’s life (lack of sleep…).

Bedwetting is not a child’s fault and most children will outgrow bedwetting on their own without medical intervention but some might need a little help and might benefit from seeing a doctor.