Deep sleep and the unresponsive bedwetter. You're not alone!

by Karen Radford 3 min read

You're probably reading this at midnight having been woken by the bedwetting alarm which failed to rouse your child. This is not an uncommon problem in around 10% of bedwetters who would sleep through the Charge of the Light Brigade were it to be re-enacted in their bedroom! However, knowing you are not the only parent with this problem is not very comforting when you need your child to respond to the alarm so they can start making the bladder/brain connection in their sleep to help them conquer their bedwetting.

So, what to do?

Deep sleeping child who wets the bed

Night time toilet training, like many learning experiences, is a process. A good place to start is understanding your child's usual bedwetting rhythm:

  • what time your child wets;
  • how many times a night your child wets;
  • is your child unresponsive to the alarm at a particular bedwetting time and remember nothing about being woken the next morning;
  • does your child become extremely agitated or distressed at being woken at a particular bedwetting time;
  • are there times when your child is more responsive to the alarm or being woken.

One of the most important things experience has taught us is when you start using the alarm you should practice what your child needs to do when it triggers, so their prospective memory (something the brain has to remember in the future) is activated. This is called Priming.

    Priming

    Before your child settles down to sleep have him or her lie in bed pretending to be asleep. Take the alarm and trigger it by putting something metal (a stainless steel knife) across the sensor. Ask your child to get up, de-activate the alarm and pretend to go to the toilet. When your child returns to bed get them to re-activate the alarm. Practice this three or four times a night over the first few nights so they are more ready to respond when they hear the alarm.

    Deep Sleepers

    Many children experience a phase of deep non-REM sleep within 90 minutes of falling asleep and often this is when the first bedwetting event occurs. Being roused from this state can be difficult and result in disoriented or even extremely agitated behaviour. They will usually feel very groggy and it can take up to 30 minutes to attain normal mental performance (known as sleep inertia). As a result, they probably won't remember being woken the next morning.

    If your child has this sort of reaction but is easier to rouse during subsequent bedwetting incidents it may pay to leave alarm training for the subsequent incidents. In this case you would wake your child 15-20 minutes before they wet the bed the first time, so the alarm doesn't disturb them during the very deep sleep phase, and take them to the toilet. Then, when they wet the bed later in the night, you can follow the normal alarm training procedure


    It is important your child remembers getting up in the night when the alarm triggers as recall is a vital step in activating the connection between the bladder and the brain. If your child has no memory of waking when the alarm triggers we suggest the following strategy:

    Recall

    Give your child a code word when you wake them in response to the alarm (a different one each night). Ask them to remember it and the next morning get them to repeat it to you. This makes your child focus and start recognising the feeling of a full bladder when they are woken.

    Reward Programmes

    Not all children go from starting to use the alarm to being dry straight away; it usually happens in stages.

    Reward Programmes are a great way of engaging your child in the process and a simple reward system, such as a sticker chart, may be all that is needed. You can also offer other tangible rewards when milestones are reached e.g. when your deep sleeper remembers the code word you gave them several mornings in a row.

    If you set achievable goals your child is less likely to become disheartened if things don't go perfectly to plan. Here are some milestones you may consider rewarding:

    • consecutive wet nights when you woke your child and they got up straight away and went to the toilet;
    • remembering the code word you gave them several mornings in a row;
    • wet nights when your child woke to the sound of the alarm on their own;
    • wet nights when your child woke to the alarm and got up and went straight to the toilet;
    • wet nights when your child helped with the clean-up and was back in bed asap;
    • dry nights;
    • 14 Consecutive dry nights - becoming a DRI Sleeper!

    Finally, make sure you give yourself a reward for all your efforts. You're worth it!

    Disclaimer: For information only. This communication is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professionals regarding any medical questions or conditions.

    Karen Radford
    Karen Radford


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    It’s been fantastic

    Hello, I have a dri sleeper bedwetting alarm I have been using with my seven year old son for ten weeks now. It’s been fantastic as except for the first two weeks we haven’t had a single wet bed.

    Well done - that is a terrific effort!
    We have seen a massive improvement

    Hi Karen,

    We have been following all of the advice in your email for the past five weeks and we have seen a massive improvement. After the second week he was dry for six nights in a row, the following week the alarm went off four times (only once during the night) and his underpants were only wet a small amount. The following week the alarm only went off once and again only his underpants were wet. We are currently in a stretch of six nights dry and hoping for this to continue.

    Thank you so much for your assistance, any advice is greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards

    Natalie

    That’s great news. Yes keep using the alarm until he has achieved 14 consecutive dry nights then he can stop using the alarm.
    this alarm has already worked after about 2 - 3 weeks usage!

    Hello Karen, I can confirm that this alarm has already worked after about 2 - 3 weeks usage! Can’t rate this highly enough and our 6 year old boy has basically gone from being wet every night (without fail) to now getting up on his own accord and going to the toilet in the night and being dry (pull up free!) in the morning! Even held wee in till the morning on a couple of occasions over last week! Incredibly effective product and will obviously be giving 5 stars on Amazon shortly (which says something as very rarely leave product reviews!)

    Kind Regards

    Richard
    Sent from my iPhone

    Congratulations Richard! Thanks for the feedback.
    Cured!!!! Thank you.

    Cured!!!! Thank you. I was dubious as to whether it would really work. It took a while to persuade our 5y/o to try it as she was VERY attached to the night nappies. The first 2 weeks were very hard. Up every night. But I could see some small progress in the second week as she began to wake up. Week 3 a lot better. Week 4 we started having dry nights. We’ve only had one bed wet since she was dry and that was at 9pm and we think due to a bad dream. Now she gets up to go to the toilet or waits till morning. So happy. It was well worth the perseverance and all the extra washing. No more nappies for us! She still won’t give up the alarm yet, but that’s no issue.

    Perserverance is the key. Well done Deb!
    He is the happiest and proudest kid on earth. I'm still pinching myself.

    My 7 year old son has NEVER been dry in his life. Every night he was SATURATED and leaked through pull ups through the bedding.

    It was his decision to order his alarm from your website as he was desperate to be dry and 'normal'. We ordered the DRI Sleeper excel.

    From the first night he was dry he has NEVER had an accident since. He raced around the house with joy, saying 'my brain has woken up, my brain has woken up!!!!'.

    It's now 6 weeks since his first dry night. He is the happiest and proudest kid on earth. I'm still pinching myself that it worked. In reflection I wish I'd gotten the wireless version but it still did a great job.

    Words can't express how this has changed our sons life and ours. We have given away all his pull ups and we are all well slept. I can't thank you enough.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. This will be very encouraging for other parents.