Advice & Support
Understanding Incontinence

Adult Bed Wetting

A good night’s sleep is essential for physical and mental wellbeing, so don’t let this condition get in the way.  Learn more about adult bed wetting, why it happens and how to treat and manage it.

Published by vuthy thach
Adult wetting

About adult bed wetting

Around 25% of children regularly wet the bed, and while research  determined that 1-2% of adults do the same, it’s thought that number is well under-reported. The likely reason is the embarrassment of being an adult with a condition associated with children who are expected to “grow out of it”.


If you suffer from adult bed wetting, don’t ignore it. The adverse effects can be significant.

  • Interrupted sleep. A single night of poor sleep can leave us grumpy and tired, but when that’s all the time, the effects can be profound. Regular, quality sleep is essential for many aspects of physical health; recovery, rest, rejuvenation, and even weight control g
  • Equally, our ability to cope emotionally and rationally with everyday events is dramatically reduced if we’re feeling exhausted and irritable
  • Getting away. Adult bed wetting can prevent people from accepting invitations or making plans to travel for work and pleasure
  • Attending to endless wet linen is time consuming, costly, and a demoralising reminder of the issue
  • If you suffer from adult bed wetting, you might start sleeping alone and withdrawing from sex. This can reduce the enjoyment and strength of an existing relationship or prevent a new one from developing


There’s no need to allow this condition to have such a negative influence on your life. There are things you can do to improve, manage, and in some cases, even cure adult bed wetting.

 What is adult bed wetting?

Medically known as nocturnal enuresis, adult bed wetting is the involuntary release of urine while asleep – during the night or day.  It’s different to nocturia, which is waking up frequently to go to the toilet.


While the term ‘adult’ in adult bed wetting technically describes sufferers aged 18 and over, it’s more likely to start after 60.

It’s important to know that the release of urine while asleep is not within the control of the individual. Nor is it the result of consuming too much fluid or not going to the toilet before bed. Although these things can make a difference, the cause is messages sent by the brain to the bladder to release urine while you’re asleep.

What causes adult bed wetting?

Several underlying issues could be the cause of urinating while you’re asleep. 

  • A urinary tract infection (UTI). While UTIs in women are more common, UTIs in men  do occur. In an attempt to flush out the infection, messages to empty the bladder can be frequent, urgent and uncontrollable – and happen while you’re sound asleep
  • An overactive bladder.  There are many triggers for this condition, which results in the bladder involuntarily contracting and expelling urine. Restricted flow, leading to an inability to empty the bladder completely, is one of the most common causes. This retained urine irritates the bladder, causing it to contract. An enlarged prostate gland, bladder diseases including cancer, kidney stones, and even persistent constipation can restrict urine flow
  • The antidiuretic hormone (ADH) tells your kidneys to reduce urine production while sleeping so you can have undisturbed sleep. Sometimes there isn’t enough of this hormone to be effective
  • Nerve damage from diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, or injury. Nerves in the bladder detect when it’s approaching capacity and send messages to the brain that it needs to be emptied. If the nerves are damaged, messages can fire off at random and even contract the bladder involuntarily and unexpectedly
  • Neurological disorders. These interfere with the regulation of messages between the bladder and brain, caused by stress, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or damage from a stroke. Like nerve damage, neurological conditions have the potential to compromise bladder control
  • Genetics. If others in your family, especially a parent, have this condition, it might indicate a genetic predisposition
  • Medication. Some medications such as sleeping tablets, diuretics or antipsychotics can cause additional urine production or irritate the bladder
  • Sleep issues like apnoea prevent you from waking when your brain receives the message to empty your bladder, resulting in bed wetting
  • Food and drinks that contain known bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, bubbles (carbonated drinks), chilli, etc. While these are unlikely to be the sole cause of adult bed wetting, they may exacerbate the condition
  • Excessive fluid consumption. Like food and drink, excessive fluid is unlikely to be the cause of adult bed wetting, but it may contribute
  • Stress and anxiety. This can become frustratingly circular – worrying about wetting the bed increases anxiety and triggers a bed-wetting episode, which feeds the anxiety, and on it goes


While the list of causes is long, sometimes a specific cause for adult bed wetting isn’t found. More in-depth research into the condition has yet to be undertaken. While not finding a cause that can be treated can be discouraging, there are still very good ways to manage the issue and ensure you get back to having regular, uninterrupted sleep.

How to improve or stop adult bed wetting

Identifying the underlying cause is key to resolving adult bed wetting. The first step is making an appointment with your doctor to investigate the medical causes listed above.  This could involve a physical examination, testing a urine sample for infection, questions about symptoms, and reviewing current conditions and medications. You might also be referred for further tests or to a specialist.


Depending on the outcome, if a cause is identified and addressed, that may stop the bed wetting. For example, if you have a UTI, a course of antibiotics will cure the infection and fix the bed wetting.


If the issue is stress or anxiety, your doctor may refer you to a counsellor or phycologist.


In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes should improve the situation.

  • Reduce fluid intake in the hours leading up to bedtime. Make sure you’re still drinking plenty of water, but have most of it earlier in the day
  • Make sure you empty your bladder completely before you go to bed
  • Avoid drinks and food that irritate the bladder,
  • Manage your diet to avoid constipation
  • Bladder retraining may be an option. For a tailored program and best results, this should be done under the supervision of a continence expert. Ask your doctor if you’re a suitable candidate
  • Try practising relaxation techniques, especially right before bed. You’ll find many apps that can guide you through meditation and other programs to relax your mind before sleep

Managing adult bed wetting

There are several reasons why management of adult bed wetting may be necessary.

  • No underlying or treatable cause is identified, so the problem will persist
  • The treatment undertaken might take time to take effect
  • The treatment may not completely fix the problem


In these instances, there are many benefits to using a TENA product.

  • All products are designed to rapidly absorb the thin, fast flow of urine and lock it deep into the pad or pants, keeping you dry and comfortable and able to stay asleep
  • Technology that prevents odours from developing
  • Able to absorb large quantities of fluid, even several voids throughout the night
  • Less sheet changing and laundry
  • Less interrupted sleep, improving your physical and mental wellbeing
  • Less stress and worry about possibly wetting the bed
  • Allow you to travel and confidently stay in hotels, with friends, etc
  • An extensive range of products, including some specifically designed for lying down and with features to minimise the chance of a leak


For example, TENA Night Pants or TENA Pant range are suitable for all genders. They look and feel like regular underwear and offer complete security at night. Made with soft, stretchy, breathable material, they feature leak barriers and cope well with movement during sleep.


If you prefer, there are TENA Pants for Men and TENA Pants for Women and, while not all are specifically for night, they offer high absorbency and a snug fit for excellent protection.


TENA Pad Maxi Night  for women have additional length as well as width at the front and back of the pad for extra coverage, no matter what your preferred sleeping position.


You might also appreciate the confidence of TENA Bed Underlays . These disposable mats provide an additional layer of absorbency, are soft and comfortable and can be discreetly placed in the bed. They’re ideal for total peace of mind if you’re staying away from home.


Head to the TENA Product Finder where answering a few questions will produce some product recommendations based on your situation. You can even order free samples to ensure you find your perfect product.


If you are experiencing adult bed wetting, make an appointment to see your doctor and know that there are many ways the problem can be fixed or managed.




Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.