ADD/ADHD and Bedwetting

Attention Deficit Disorder and Bedwetting

By Lyle D. Danuloff, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Judith Kovach. Ph. D.

Perhaps your child has been misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADD/ADHD) when the underlying problem is actually an oxygen-deprived, deep-sleep disorder.

Bed wetting is caused by an inherited deep-sleep disorder, causing the bed wetter to spend most of the night in Stage 4 sleep, which is an oxygen-deprived sleep. Thus, when a person is deprived of oxygen for extended periods of time at night–affecting the brain, bloodstream, muscles and all other organs–the resulting symptoms can be identical to those of ADD/ADHD, (the inability to concentrate or pay attention, forgetfulness, failure to complete tasks, distractibility, etc.). To end bed wetting, you must remove the cause…a serious sleep disorder. We have discovered that, in most cases, once the sleep disorder is corrected and the bed wetting stops, the symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD also disappear. In some cases where there is a legitimate ADD/ADHD disability, the symptoms improve enough that medications for ADD/ADHD can most likely be discontinued.

Inexplicably, the most widely used criteria for ADD/ADHD diagnosis, (the American Psychiatric Association’s ‘DSM IV’), does not include deep sleep disorders as part of the symptomatology. However, research does suggest that (out of 1822 cases) 48% of those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD had been or still were bed wetters.

Interesting statistic…there are three times more male bed wetters than female, and three times more males diagnosed with ADD/ADHD than females!

Prematurely labeling children as ADD/ADHD and prescribing a drug may be quick, easy and inexpensive, but may not be the responsible thing to do. Most ADD/ADHD labeled children are medicated by doctors on a teacher’s recommendation. A study in the “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine” reports pediatricians and child psychiatrists are turning more and more to prescription drugs to treat their young patients. The study says, “Little research exists to indicate whether drugs are being prescribed responsibly or whether they are over-prescribed, in part because health insurers are reluctant to pay for non-medication treatments.” Since the overlap of symptoms for ADD/ADHD and enuresis is so extensive, any child manifesting those symptoms should, in the initial ADD/ADHD testing situation, be examined regarding bedwetting. While it is certainly possible that a child may be suffering from both disorders, the likelihood of such a duel diagnosis is low. The immediate use of medication to treat the ADD-like symptoms therefore will not address the real issue, the deep sleep disorder itself. In addition, if the enuretic were to outgrow the bedwetting, not only will the sleep disorder remain and continue to produce symptoms, but there is no way to treat the sleep disorder.

It has been our experience, over the past 35 years, that addressing the bed wetting problem is the most productive method to providing relief of both the sleep disorder and the ADD/ADHD symptoms. Remember, symptoms almost always disappear when the bed wetting and the sleep disorder are addressed and ended. If the symptoms persist after successful treatment of the bed wetting, possible ADD/ADHD should be further examined and treated accordingly.

The Enuresis Treatment Center has been successfully treating bedwetting for children, teenagers, and adults since 1975.  Please visit our bedwetting clinic website at or call 800.379.2331 today.

Topic Information
Genetic Link Bedwetting and ADD seem to be common partners; both have genetic components. The role of genetics in the development of ADHD has only recently been discovered. However, ADHD is now among the most recognized genetics-based disorders in psychiatry. Between 10 and 35 percent of children with ADHD have a very close relative with ADHD, and nearly one half of parents who had ADHD as a child also has a child with the disorder. Studies done in families of children with ADHD show those relatives of affected children are at high risk themselves for having ADHD and other psychiatric disorders, as well as learning disabilities. (Source:
UC Irvine College of Medicine 3 to 5 % of all children – 500,000 children in the United States – have some degree of ADHD and also suffer from bedwetting
Bedwetting and ADHD At age six, they found that children with ADHD were 2.7 times more likely to have bedwetting and 4.5 times more likely to have daytime wetting (
ADHD does not cause bedwetting ADHD does not cause bedwetting and it is not listed as a symptom of ADHD (
Southern Medical Journal Children with ADHD had a 2.7 times higher incidence of bedwetting and a 4.5 times higher incidence of daytime wetting.
Increased risk for learning disability Enuresis was associated with increased risk for learning disability, impaired intellectual function, and impaired school achievement. (Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit (ACC 725), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.?
Diagnosis of ADD/ADHD A history of bedwetting is a very strong clue to the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. (Dr. Monroe Gross, M.D., ADD Medical Treatment Center)
One in fifty teenagers wet A study that was published in Urology Journal International has stated that one in fifty teenager’s still wet the bed. Source: Medical News Today, 05/19/2006

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