My son is 9 and is a very heavy sleeper. We have used our new bedwetting alarm the last 3 nights and he doesn’t hear it, even though it is very loud and I can hear it from my room. I must go to his room and wake him up. What do you recommend?
What you describe is perfectly normal when beginning to use any bedwetting alarm. Most children, even those without bedwetting, are sound sleepers and do not wake easily. In the beginning, their brain doesn’t know that this sound is important and demands an action. It takes time for this to happen.
Children also depend on their parents to take care of the annoying noises in the nighttime. The research done by manufacturers of smoke detectors also reflects this phenomenon. Most children slept through the very loud sound of the smoke detector and it wasn’t until their parents went to their room and said their name that they actually woke up.
Time of the wetting
The timing of the wetting episode also makes a difference. If the alarm sounds in the first couple of hours after he goes to sleep, he is less likely to respond by himself. This is the deepest part of his sleep cycle. As it gets closer to morning, and he is in a lighter sleep phase, he is more likely to hear the alarm by himself and remember it in the morning.
Alarm is for parents
In the beginning, the alarm is for the parents! You should respond to the sound by going to your son’s room, wake him and help him turn off the alarm and get to the bathroom. By doing this every time the alarm sounds, over time his body will begin to associate the sound with a full bladder and waking up to walk to the bathroom. Within a few weeks, you may begin to see him waking to the alarm, sitting on the edge of the bed or trying to turn it off. You will also begin to see smaller wet spots in his bed with more urine left to empty in the toilet when he reaches the bathroom.
It is important that you can hear his alarm in the beginning. If your room is far away, using a baby monitor or getting a second receiver for the wireless alarms are options.
Different than setting an alarm clock
Some families try to set an alarm clock for the middle of the night to alert their child to wake up and go to the bathroom. The problem with this method is that it’s impossible to know what time the child needs to urinate. This varies from night to night. A moisture-sensing bedwetting alarm pinpoints precisely when the child needs to urinate and enables the brain to make the connection with the feeling of a full bladder.
May be confused when alarm sounds
Wetting can occur any time in your son’s sleep cycle. When in deep REM sleep and in the first few hours of falling asleep, children can frequently be disoriented, crying or saying crazy things. He may not recognize you or even know the location of the bathroom. He most likely will not remember any of this in the morning. Do not be disheartened by this! He can still make progress even without a clear memory of what happened.
As he learns to respond to his bedwetting alarm on his own, your role will be less important. You can listen from your room and make sure he is getting to the bathroom. If you don’t hear him responding, remind him what to do. Make sure he does not turn off the alarm and go back to sleep without walking to the bathroom. This bad habit delays progress. Have him wear his alarm until he has 2 consecutive weeks of dry nights, then every other night until he has 2 more weeks of dryness. The average child takes around 10-12 weeks to achieve this. If he is making progress, continue to use the alarm.
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