Protection for better sleep

A very interesting article, suggesting that bedwetting children should wear protection to get a good night’s sleep.

The first finding is perhaps not surprising: undiapered bedwetting children have significantly worse sleep quality than non-bedwetters. Undiapered bedwetters have more activity during sleep and shorter periods of continuous sleep.

The second finding may be more surprising, and is certainly more interesting: Diapered bedwetters have significantly better sleep quality than undiapered bedwetters – indeed, the sleep quality for diapered bedwetters is substantially similar to that of non-bedwetters.


In comparison to [non-bedwetters], children with enuresis who did not wear night diapers had poorer sleep quality as reflected by both actigraphic measures (more activity during sleep and shorter periods of continuous sleep) and one reported measure (lower sleep quality). However, no differences were found on any of the sleep measures between children with enuresis wearing night diapers and [non-bedwetters]. The reported sleep quality of all children with enuresis with and without night diapers was lower than [non-bedwetters].

Given the importance of quality sleep, the authors conclude that doctors and nurses should recommend that a bedwetting child sleep in a diaper:


Our results suggest that sleep patterns of school-aged children with enuresis who do not wear night diapers are impaired, and the sleep quality of children using night diapers is similar to those of [non-bedwetters]. Thus, clinicians and healthcare providers should consider recommending sleeping with night diapers for untreated children with enuresis, based on its positive impact on sleep.

This confirms my advice that parents offer protection to a bedwetting child. Indeed, this indicates that my advice was not be strong enough:  For a good night’s sleep, protection may be essential. As I say in the update to that post,

A bedwetter should wear protection.

A parent of a young bedwetter should insist on protection.

A parent of a bedwetter old enough to make a mature decision should offer and very strongly recommend and encourage protection.

The authors close with an interesting comment: Diapering at older ages does not have a negative effect on a bedwetter, nor does it perpetuate bedwetting. Diapering will lower stress and shame and improve “the child’s well-being and psychologic functioning”.

Speaking from my own, my siblings’ and my children’s experience, I think that is certainly true. A wet diaper is less stressful and shameful than a wet bed, and no child wants to wake up in either a wet bed or a wet diaper.

Of course, as I have suggested, it is probably not good salesmanship to call it a diaper, even if the authors of the study do!

Kushner, Cohen-Zrubavel, Kushnir, “Night diapers use and sleep in children with enuresis”

[Thanks to commenter George for passing on this citation.]


8 thoughts on “Protection for better sleep

  1. Pingback: Offer protection | Bedwetting Mom

  2. I agree with this as well. I didn’t want to when I began using diapers again at night but it really did improve my quality of sleep. Prior, it was a lot of tossing and turning, trying to find a dry spot to get back to sleep or changing sheets/clothes in the middle of the night. Almost immediately once i began using diapers again, I found that I was sleeping for longer stretches of the night, wasn’t cold/shivering, and wasn’t as exhausted in the AM.

    • I certainly felt exactly that when I was a teenager. It only took me a couple of nights in a wet bed to convince me. If wearing something could protect me completely from that awfulness, I didn’t care what it was.

      • Yup exactly. Tried to fight it but soon enough the benefits of a full nights sleep and being comfortable through that night was such a huge difference that it effected the rest of my day as well. I wasn’t as tired and grumpy in the mornings. Wearing protection was the lesser of the two evils.

  3. I am in complete agreement with the statement “a bedwetter should wear protection”.

    That was the case with my mom and the case with me. I always felt better about having protection on in bed as it insured a good nights sleep which during the growing up years is considered a good thing. Yes there are times when kids are uncomfortable wearing protection and want to try sleeping without and after some time go back to protection realizing, in my case, that a diaper plastic pant combination made me feel all that much better about things come morning. It did lower the stress level which made sleep more comfortable and undisturbed.

    And yes parents of a bedwetter should make the point about bedtime protection. There are many more choices out there today than when I was growing up but I did learn the value of a comfortable night’s sleep.

    • Sheryl, good points.

      There are plenty of options out there and it should really depend on the situation on how a parent approaches the topic. I know I was adamantly against it at first, mainly due to the stigma attached to diapers and belief that it would only compound the problem. My mom knew at first it was going to be tough to talk me into it and eventually wore me down by finding the right amount of insistence. Once I agreed to try protection out, it didn’t take long for me to come around and see the benefits of it.

      • Back in my bed wetting days I thought I was the only one that was treated with diapers. Yes they were cloth and plastic. After the initial shock of being reintroduced to them, it did not take long to realize the benefits.Although I never truly accepted wearing diapers I think My Mom made the right choice. My biggest fear was that someone would find out. But mom kept it “our little secret”.

  4. I agree that my teenage years would have been so much easier if I had the option of wearing cloth diapers overnight. I would have had to deal with my brother’s ridicule, of course, but I was ridiculed already by my daily soaked sheets, blankets, and pillows. I also had the one bedroom that had that distinct bedwetter’s smell. I was kept in diapers until I entered high school. (I always hated the wetting more than the diapers.) I fooled myself into thinking if I could just stop wearing the diapers I would be able to force myself to stop wetting in my sleep. That was pretty silly indeed as I wet every night and often more than once a night. I was now 14 and would wake up in the middle of the night cold and flooded. I would often move to the floor next to my bed and would sometimes wet their also. For the next 4 years I battled this nightly issue and would often not be motivated enough to stop the soaked sheets before going to school. Of course this just added to the bedwetter odor and if the sheets were dry by the next night I would just sleep on the stained sheets again. I not only hated the wetting but my sleep was severely broken up by the middle of the night mess. When I turned 18 I put myself back in thick cloth diapers with plastic pants. What a relief! Of course I continued to wet, and still do, but now I would sleep through the night and wake up warm, and comfortable in a dry bed.

    Diapers carry an unjust stigma and will continue to do so which is a real shame because they are simply a tool to handle a sleeping health issue. A band aid protects an open wound. A diaper protects wetting in your sleep. Very simple. I wish there was an easy way to get kids stuck with this condition comfortable with the best method for handling it. I’m 52 years old and don’t give diapers a second thought.
    I might also recommend a through eurodynamic test be done on teenage bedwetter’s because I discovered in my 30’s I actually have a neurogenic bladder, probably from birth, that completely explained why I never had a chance of controlling my nighttime wetting. I would have felt somewhat better during that time of life had I known the issue was truly “out of control”.

    I’m sure the cause is different for many bedwetter cases but please take heart the wetting is NOT your fault.

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