With the holiday season approaching with its opportunities to hit the town or visit friends and family, it’s natural you might want to drink more alcohol. A recent survey suggested that 61% of drinkers over-indulge at this time of year1, so if you have a urinary condition, you might be wondering if bedwetting increases after drinking alcohol.
Is bedwetting more likely after drinking alcohol?
Can this drinking potentially have an unwelcome side effect? And can it make existing bladder issues, such as urinary incontinence and bedwetting, worse?
Known as nocturnal enuresis, there are several reasons why bedwetting is more likely after drinking alcohol2. You might think of it as a problem usually experienced by children, but actually 0.5-2% of adults involuntarily wee in their sleep3, making it more common than you might think! But why does drinking alcohol increase the chances of wetting the bed?
Firstly, everyone has antidiuretic hormone (ADH) in their brain, which controls and regulates urine production in the kidneys. Your levels of ADH are higher at night, so your kidneys do less work whilst you are sleeping. Drinking alcohol can reduce the amount of ADH that your body produces, so your more active kidneys process more liquid and produce more pee – meaning you are more likely to wet the bed.
Secondly, drinking alcohol affects your brain’s signals to tell you that you need to wee. During the daytime, when you’re awake, you simply go to the toilet when you feel the need, but at night, when asleep, the signals are duller. So, after drinking alcohol, the chance of bedwetting increases because it affects your ability to notice these signals4.
Finally, you may find bedwetting more of an issue after drinking alcohol because it’s a muscle irritant. We all have a detrusor muscle in the wall of our bladder, which contracts to allow us to pee and relaxes to allow the bladder to be filled up again. Drinking alcohol irritates it and makes it contract5, making us wet the bed afterwards. On top of this, alcohol has other short and long term health effects, which you can learn about here.
What solutions are there for bedwetting after drinking alcohol?
There are lots of solutions that might help and still allow you to have that occasional festive alcoholic drink without worrying about wetting the bed, especially if you have an underlying bladder problem:
- avoid too much caffeine if you know you’ll be drinking later, as caffeine also irritates the detrusor muscle6
- it may sound obvious, but go to the loo just before getting into bed to make sure your bladder is as empty as possible
- set an alarm for a middle of the night loo break7
- switch from pints of beer and cider to smaller spirits and mixers to limit your fluid intake8
- to protect your bed from leaks, try our range of soft, protective bed pads. Other discreet, comfort and dermatologist-approved continence products are available in our full range
Now you understand why you might wet the bed after drinking alcohol and are armed with a wide range of solutions, you can join in the holiday festivities while managing your urinary condition.
1 “New study finds tis the season for peak drinking and hangovers”, drinkaware, 5 December 2019, Source: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/news/new-study-finds-tis-the-season-for-peak-drinking-and-hangovers
2 “Do You Wet the Bed After a Night of Drinking? Here’s Why”, Cleveland Clinic, 27 July 2020, James Ulchaker Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/adults-booze-bedwetting-heres-happens/
3 “Why Some Guys Wet the Bed After a Night Of Drinking”, Cassie Shortsleeve, 1 September 2016, Source: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19528026/bedwetting-and-alcohol/
5 “Do You Wet the Bed After a Night of Drinking? Here’s Why”, Cleveland Clinic, 27 July 2020, James Ulchaker Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/adults-booze-bedwetting-heres-happens/
6 “Bladder control: Lifestyle strategies ease problems”, Mayo Clinic Staff, n.d, Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/in-depth/bladder-control-problem/art-20046597
7 “Help, I keep weeing in my sleep when I’m drunk!”, Amy Curtis, 7 January 2020, Source: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ask-the-expert/a4117/after-drinking-i-urinate-around-the-house/
8 “How Bedwetting When Drunk Is a Real Thing”, Kristina Robb Dover, 2 April 2021, Source: https://fherehab.com/learning/bedwetting-when-drunk