Friday, February 16, 2007

The Connection between Deep Sleep and Bed-wetting

The medical community has long considered children aged five or six who are continual bed-wetters also suffer from a sleep disorder. New studies seem to show that this is not the case and that these children typically are deep sleepers who do not wake up when the message is sent from the brain that the bladder needs to be emptied.

Controlled laboratory studies indicate that deep sleeping plays a role in bed-wetting, but is not the chief cause.

A study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine recorded the electroencephalography (EEG) of the children participating. The EEG monitors the brain’s electrical activity throughout sleep. Children suffering from various sleep disorders were recorded by the EEG as having abnormal electrical patterns.

Children who suffered from enuresis, but no known sleep disorder, exhibited regular brain activity throughout sleep. These results support the idea that sleep disorders and bed-wetting are not linked.

Doctors do not know just what causes enuresis, though complete bladder control is a slow process that takes time, with no definitive age of mastery for all children. Some children develop nighttime mastery at a very early age while others take significantly longer. Daytime bladder control is normally achieved first while children are awake and alert, able to immediately respond to a full bladder.

Many parts of the body must work together in controlling bladder function and urine control including the nerves, muscles, brain and spinal chord.

The bladder sends a message to the brain to wake up when the bladder is full. A deep sleeper does not respond to the brain's message and the body attempts to hold the urine until the sleeper awakes. Typically, where enuresis is concerned, the body is not working well enough yet to control the urine.

Some children have a smaller than normal bladder, or one that is not yet matured enough to make nighttime bladder control happen regularly. Still other children create more urine in which case the bladder is unable to contain it throughout the night. Physical troubles such as diabetes and urinary tract infections can also factor in bed-wetting.

Studies have shown there may be a genetic connection to bed-wetting. The National Kidney Foundation reports that a child with one parent who experienced bed-wetting has a 4 in 10 chance of also being a bed-wetter. If both parents were bed wetters raises it to a 7 in 10 chance.