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Is there a connection between bedwetting and sleep apnea? Many health professionals who deal with sleep disordered breathing would say yes based on clinical experience, and the research agrees.

Bedwetting And Sleep Apnea In Children 

Sadly, a large number of children suffer from some form of sleep disordered breathing. The estimates vary depending on the research but between 3 to 12 percent of children snore (which is a form of sleep disordered breathing that should definitely not be ignored). Obstructive sleep apnea affects between 1 to 10 percent of children.

Bedwetting and sleep apnea are connected

There are serious potential consequences to untreated obstructive sleep apnea. In children, these include failure to thrive, ADHD symptoms, academic difficulties and behavioral problems. It’s even possible for them to develop cardiovascular conditions.

Bedwetting (also known as nocturnal enuresis) is a relatively common symptom in children with obstructive sleep apnea.

This study shows that children who have sleep disordered breathing (including snoring) have a higher risk of bedwetting. This study also shows that children with sleep disordered breathing were more likely to wet the bed than children who didn’t have symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing.

Sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing is thought to lead to an increase in bedwetting because of disruptions to the brain signals related to the bladder.

Basically, during sleep disordered breathing, particularly obstructive sleep apnea, the body is forced from sleep into wakefulness in order to restore the correct breathing pattern. When this happens, abnormal changes to the natural brain signals can trigger urination by instructing the body to remove sodium.

Frequent Urination, Bedwetting, And Sleep Apnea In Adults

Adults with sleep apnea aren’t immune to this condition. The adult body can respond in the same way, but adults are more likely to respond with an increased need to urinate frequently at night as opposed to nocturnal enuresis. This condition is known as nocturia or nycturia. It can involve adults needing to urinate as many as six or even more times per night.

The cause is again due to the brain sending incorrect signals to the body during apneic events (when breathing briefly stops). This leads to the body attempting to remove sodium and water, which forces the adult to get out of bed to urinate. This of course further disrupts sleep, which makes the whole sleep disordered breathing situation even more difficult to manage. 

Why Is Bedwetting Or Frequent Urination A Red Flag? 

People often assume that these symptoms could be related to other health problems such as prostate enlargement in men or urinary incontinence in women. While this can be the case, it’s still worth noting that any issues with bedwetting or frequent urination at night could be signs of an undiagnosed sleep disordered breathing condition.

These symptoms should be assessed by a doctor specializing in sleep medicine to rule out any sleep disordered breathing.

The good news is that when sleep disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea are diagnosed and successfully treated, these symptoms will usually resolve.



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