“My 7 year old son wets 2 hours after he goes to sleep. He always goes to the bathroom right before bedtime and doesn’t drink anything after dinner. His bedtime is 8pm and when I check on him when I go to bed at 10:30, he is often already wet. This doesn’t make sense to me since he can easily go more than 3 hours in the daytime. What’s wrong?”
I don’t think there is anything “wrong”. I frequently see this pattern of wetting, especially in children who have just begun using a bedwetting alarm. Since parents now know when the wetting is occurring, they are surprised and amazed that it occurs so early in the sleep cycle. In children with bedwetting, it seems that their bladder and pelvic floor muscles relax and let the urine flow out when their body relaxes and falls into deep sleep. Their bladder isn’t so full that it can’t hold any more urine; their body just lets the accumulated urine out at the wrong time. Two hours into the sleep cycle is when we are all very groggy, can’t make sense of where we are, and have very little memory of this sleep interruption. Parents observe a disoriented child, who may be combative or resistant, who do not remember the alarm at all in the morning.
When your son is ready to stop bedwetting, he will make great progress with a bedwetting alarm. Initially, the alarm will sound early in the sleep cycle, when he wets. Help him turn off the alarm and get up to the bathroom. He may not cooperate at all in the beginning (that will come later). Reattach the alarm because he may wet a second time later that night. Over the first few weeks, you will begin to see his pattern of wetting change. Instead of wetting in two hours, the wetting will happen later. His body will begin to learn that letting the urine flow out when in the deep sleep phase isn’t the best time to respond. He’ll begin to “hold it” longer and will respond more appropriately when the alarm sounds four to six hours into his sleep cycle. Eventually, he’ll get up before he wets or hold it until morning.
Continue to have him urinate twice before bed, about 30 minutes apart and limit evening fluids to water. Drinking a lot throughout the day will prevent him from being thirsty in the evening. Stopping disposable pants once he begins using a bedwetting alarm is a good time to transition to regular underwear in the nighttime. Using a waterproof mattress overlay on top of his sheet helps with clean-up.