Sleepwetting Forum Articles

[ sleepwetting a.k.a. nocturnal enuresis or bedwetting]

from Spontaneous Combustion

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Wetness Alarms

Reliable wetness alarms are likely to cost between $50 and $100 US. Some suppliers offer an advice/support service. Two medical doctors on line, Alan Greene and Michael Foreman posting as Kid Doctor on AOL, have suggested the SleepDry® alarm [just over $50 US] sold by StarChild Labs, PO Box 404, Aptos, CA 95001-0404, phone 831-662-2659. [Both doctors note that they have no financial connection to this company, nor do I.] There is also a nearly silent motion-alarm called Potty Pager which may be preferable for self-motivated teens and adults who don't want everyone else in the house to hear the alarm. The next development in alarms may be ones activated by a bladder pressure sensor before sleepwetting occurs. Alarm information and support programs are offered through some children's hospitals and clinics.

There are also advertised commercial programs that reportedly charge as much as $1,500.00 US for similar services. I have read complaints on-line about their guarantees and reports that some sales representatives get a child hyped up to the program before revealing how much it costs and then guilt-trip the parents into spending the money.

Alarms don't work as well or as quickly for one child as another. Studies of wetness alarms report 60% to 75% success rates when used properly with children age six and up who have no counterproductive medical conditions or behavioral issues. [With our two children we got 50% success at age six.] Combining alarm use with bladder exercises, visualizations, and rewards for cooperation increase both short term and long term success rates. For assistance in developing an alarm use plan, contact us at Sleepwetting support.

The newer styles of alarm that are worn inside or clipped onto underpants usually have a faster, more reliable response than the older style with pads that go under a sheet. Since the user is expected to set off the alarm once or more each night at first as part of learning not to, wearing padded waterproof pants, GoodNites®, or similar easily removable covering (NOT diapers, cloth or disposable) over the alarmed underpants may be a reasonable precaution. If that seems 'babyish' to the wearer, it may help to compare this protection with bicycle training wheels that are temporary and taken off as a rider develops balance and control. Waterproof backed bed pads (washable or disposable) are an alternative to waterproof pants, particularly as the alarm user begins to awaken with fewer and smaller wet spots. Some successful alarm users may continue to have an occasional wet night related to stress, illness, monthly cycle, seasonal allergy, or other changes in their lives. Someone who reverts to having several wet nights a week may need a refresher course with the alarm.

Alarms usually work best for those who can sleep dry for at least three hours after going to bed (past the first long deep sleep part of typical sleep cycles) and sleepwet only once or twice a night. The user must be willing and able to take most of the responsibility for setting up and using the alarm, particularly for interrupting wetting long enough to turn off the alarm and get to a toilet to finish. If the user cannot wake up enough to turn off the alarm before the bladder is empty, chances for success are low and for family frustration, high. In such cases, it is probably wise to put the alarm aside for a while, return to external bladder control (GoodNites®, diapers, etc. or DDAVP) and encourage a program of regular bladder muscle exercises until greater readiness to learn internal bladder control can be seen.


I am NOT a medical professional and do not offer advice that should be taken as medical or therapeutic in intent. Always consult a doctor for medical diagnoses and treatments. I have researched the area of teaching bladder control and managing bladder disabilities as part of volunteer work with incontinence support organizations and families of children with disabilities. I am a writer, actor, storyteller, children's bookseller, and parent of two young adults. I serve as list owner of the e-mail lists EnuresisKids [moderated] and EnuresisParents.
Tom Farley

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Page last updated on 9/26/2010 by Tom Farley of Spontaneous Combustion