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Resource Centre best read article including editorial by Professor Guy Bogaert

On this first ever World Bedwetting Day, we may ask ourselves, “What is the best advice to give to parents of a school-age child with bedwetting in regards to his or her quality of sleep?”

We know that bedwetting is a widespread disorder among children (15% at the age of 6-7 years of age) and can have adverse effects on the child’s well-being and psychological functioning. We also know that the sleep of bedwetting children is disturbed, and that this is one of the main causes of bedwetting. Sleep disturbance may be exacerbated by parental coping strategies such as waking the child during the night or taking the sleeping child to the toilet to void. In addition, parents think that letting the child sleep without a diaper may be beneficial to “learn to feel the wetness” and then wake up. However, this does not happen, and the children continue to sleep lying in a wet bed. How important is the fact to be able to sleep in a dry bed on the quality of sleep in children? Would wearing nappies (diapers or napkins) allow the child a better night’s sleep?

This question was addressed in a study in children aged 6–9 years. 

The investigators assessed the sleep patterns of 72 children with enuresis and of 63 healthy control children. They obtained sleep measures from 4 or 5 nights of monitoring by actigraphy and from daily logs.

The nocturnal use of nighttime diapers had a positive impact on sleep. Recordings showed that bedwetting children who did not wear diapers had poorer sleep quality (i.e. greater activity and shorter periods of continuous sleep) than did those who wore diapers. This poorer sleep quality was confirmed by the daily logs.

All of the bedwetting children reported poorer sleep quality than did the control children, regardless of night-time diapers use, but sleep measures for diapers-wearing children with nocturnal enuresis were similar to those for control children.

The investigators concluded that for school-aged children with nocturnal enuresis and impaired sleep patterns, sleep quality can be improved by the use of night-time diapers. They urge clinicians and healthcare providers to consider recommending night-time nappies for children that are unable to follow a medical treatment to become dry at night.

This study emphasizes the importance that bedwetting children should sleep in a dry bed to ensure a good normal quality of sleep. Bedwetting children should be treated for nocturnal enuresis or if not possible should wear nighttime diapers.

Kushnir J, Cohen-Zrubavel V, and Kushnir B. Night diapers use and sleep in children with enuresis. Sleep Medicine. 2013;14:1013-16. 

Read the related article


Night diapers use and sleep in children with enuresis

Kushnir J, Cohen-Zrubavel V, and Kushnir B.


Sleep Medicine. 2013;14:1013-16. 

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