Reasons for Adult Bed Wetting

Reasons for Adult Bed Wetting
Reasons for Adult Bed Wetting (Image:

Adult bed-wetting, or nocturnal enuresis, occurs when you involuntarily wet the bed at night. According to the National Association for Continence, at least 2 percent of adults suffer from this condition. Most individuals who develop primary nocturnal enuresis (childhood bed-wetting) outgrow this condition. Secondary enuresis, or when adults begin to have nocturnal enuresis, is a condition that should be checked by a doctor, as there could be an underlying cause such as diabetes or cancer.


Genetics may play a role in your chances of having nocturnal enuresis. It isn't necessarily a factor in many people, but according to the National Association for Continence, if a child has both parents who wet the bed in childhood, their chance of wetting the bed increased by 77 percent. Wetting the bed as a child can also become a factor later in adulthood.


When you drink alcohol, a hormone (vasopressin) produced within your body decreases. As a result, you will begin to notice that you have to void more. As the bladder begins to fill up, it will need to be emptied on a higher level. If you fall into a deep sleep or are unable to rouse easily to make it to the restroom in time, this can result in bed-wetting.


Our bodies produce a hormone known as antidiuretics, or ADH, which tells our kidneys when we need to decrease the production of urine. More of this hormone is produced at night to decrease the amount of urine. If you have type II diabetes, this hormone becomes abnormal, which can cause an excessive amount of urine to be created. Sometimes the body can make the hormone, but the kidneys do not process the information, and an influx of urine is made.

Small Bladder

The idea of having a small bladder does not mean that your bladder is actually small but that the capacity of your bladder is small. Your functional bladder capacity can only hold so much urine. If the amount exceeds the capacity you are able to hold, the muscles within your bladder cannot relax, which then causes you to urinate more.


The National Association for Continence states that psychiatric medications (thioridazine, clozapine) can cause nocturnal enuresis. Nocturnal enuresis is usually a side effect of the medication, and changing medications can usually reverse the condition.

Other Causes

Other causes of bed-wetting are urinary tract infections, kidney stones, prostate enlargement and sleep apnea. Sometimes anxiety or emotional disturbances can also cause bed-wetting, but in these cases, the symptoms do not last. Bladder cancer can also cause bed-wetting. If you experience bed-wetting, it is important to seek medical attention to get tested in case the cause may be something as serious as cancer.


Minimizing the amount of fluid you drink before you go to bed can help decrease the amount of fluid in your bladder. Limiting the amount of alcohol or caffeine can also help. You can also try bladder volume training, where you drink very small amounts of fluids and refrain from voiding for at least up to three hours. This will help increase your functional bladder capacity. If you're a deep sleeper, sometimes setting an alarm to awake you in the middle of the night to urinate can also help reduce the chances of bed-wetting.

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