I Dreamt I Was Peeing, and Then I Peed in My Bed
You're Not Alone
Many people have experienced waking up from a dream of going to the bathroom to find that they've either gone, are going, or really have to go. For most, this is a one-time occurrence and it's nothing to worry about. If this is a repeated problem, however, you should seek help. It's not the dream that's causing the accident, it's the fact your body isn't waking up to its need to urinate.
My Experience With Bedwetting Dreams
I was walking upstairs and felt my nightgown against my body. I was warm, surprisingly so for wintertime. My bare feet were not even cold, and usually it's freezing in the house. I made my way to the bathroom where I proceeded to do what all humans do. I peed.
Ahhh, sweet relief....
What the hell have I just done! I'm peeing! I'm peeing in my bed, and I can't stop! Holy crap, this is crazy!
Apparently, the scenario was just a really vivid dream. So much so that I actually let loose in real life. So now here I am, jumping up out of bed, feeling the warm urine turning ice cold on my pajamas, and a big ole steamy stain right on my brand-new mattress.
I know, I'm disgusting, I'm vile...some would even say a sinner. I pissed the bed.
I have never been a bedwetter. Who the hell wets the bed at 26 years old? I had never in my life woken from my sleep to find myself pissing all over the place. There had to be an explanation for why I did what I did.
I took my case to dream books. I wanted to find out what dreaming about peeing meant. Answers were provided (it turns out that dreaming that you are peeing is a sign that relief from a difficult situation may happen soon), yet no book had the answer to why I dreamt I was peeing, and then actually pissed.
The only logical answer I could come up with is that my body knew I had to go, thus the dream. I did have to go, but unfortunately I didn't wake up in time to actually go. The dream of seeing the toilet and relieving myself started the urination process.
It turns out this is a fairly common occurrence, one that happens to many people all around the world, old and young. It's so common that psychologists have a name for it: a "false awakening."
In a false awakening, your dream of waking up is so vivid and realistic that you completely believe it, and then you behave as if you were awake, but you're really still lying there asleep in bed. In a false awakening, dreamers often dream they are doing the regular things they need to do like getting up, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and having breakfast. And, of course, peeing.
It's like your body has two needs—to empty your bladder and to get enough sleep—and instead of sacrificing one (sleep) for the other (pee), it tries to take a shortcut: pee AND sleep. It's like your brain's lazy way of fooling itself into believing it can have it all.
Though it might seem like your dream made you pee, it's likely the other way around, that your brain received the signal that you needed to go and then that stimulus provided the inspiration for your dream.
What to Do Now
If this has happened to you, you should know that you are not alone. Many people go through this experience without it becoming a recurring problem.
If it only happens once and does not occur again, don't worry about it. It was a one-time thing, and there are thousands of other people who have experienced the same thing.
What Happens If It Doesn't Stop
Bedwetting, also called nocturnal enuresis, is only a problem if it's a regular occurrence. Some people have never experienced a dry period since they were kids. For others, bedwetting comes back to them after years of never having even one accident. According to the National Association for Continence, 2% of the U.S. population experiences recurring bedwetting.
If you're a teenager, it's likely that your system is just a little slow and that your body will learn to coordinate itself with time.
Causes of Bedwetting in Adults
There are two types of bedwetting:
- Persistant primary nocturnal enuresis is a condition that begins in childhood and is when someone hasn't experienced nighttime dryness for longer than 6 months. There is evidence to show that this kind of bedwetting is hereditary.
- Adult-onset secondary enuresis is for people who have experienced dryness but then experience a recurrence later in life.
According to Dr. Margaret Stearn, if you've just started bedwetting after a long period of being dry, some of the underlying causes could be:
- A urinary tract infection, which can make it difficult for the bladder to hold urine
- Alcohol, coffee or diuretic medicines, which all cause production of more urine and can irritate the bladder
- Sleeping tablets - Sometimes these cause sleep so deep the body doesn't wake up when it recognizes that it needs to go
- Diabetes - Lots of urine can be a symptom of diabetes. If the diabetes is treated, this problem goes away
- Stress and anxiety
- Some medications
- An underlying medical condition, like a prostate problem in men or pelvic organ prolapse in women
- Urinary tract stones
- A neurological disorder
- An anatomical abnormality
- Prostate cancer
- Prostate enlargement
- Bladder cancer
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- A spinal cord injury
What Can You Do to Diminish or Stop Adult Bedwetting
First of all, do not blame yourself for wetting the bed—it is completely involuntary and cannot be controlled. There is no reason to feel guilty or dirty for having this problem. There are some tactics that may help you solve the problem without seeking medical help:
- Try changing your diet. Cut down on alcohol and coffee as well as acidic foods and the other foods seen in this list of common bladder irritants from the National Association for Incontinence.
- Don't take diuretic medicines at night.
- Limit the fluids you drink in the late afternoon and in the evening, but do not dehydrate yourself. This can actually irritate your bladder more, causing the opposite effect that you want.
- Try to reduce your stress levels. Change your living or work situation, take a vacation, or learn stress-management techniques.
- Try using an alarm clock to wake you up a couple hours after you go to bed and a couple hours before you wake up. Vary the time every few days so your bladder doesn't get into a specific pattern.
- You could try sleeping in a different bed or moving your bed.
- Exercise - Find a program that will help build muscle, endurance, and flexibility. Some combination of weight training (including training with your bodyweight), cardiovascular training (like running), and stretching regimen might help you improve control.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor by doing Kegels, which are exercises that can help you improve bladder and bowel function.
- Lose weight. Being overweight increases your risk of incontinence, especially for women. Trying a diet that is low in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and eliminates caloric drinks is a good place to start.
- Go to the bathroom before you go to bed at night. Wait 5 minutes and do it again. Pee as soon as you get up.
- Though not clinically proven to be effective, it's possible you could teach yourself to recognize that you're dreaming through lucid dreaming techniques.
You Should Get Help If
This is an ongoing problem. Though millions of people suffer from bedwetting, only 1 in 12 seeks help for it. You don't have to be one of those 11 people suffering alone. There are ways that you can manage or even stop bedwetting.
Before you go to the doctor, keep a diary for 2-3 weeks to keep track of your voiding habits. The National Association for Incontinence has a downloadable template with the kind of information you should be monitoring. You should also be sure to note the number of wet vs dry nights, your quality of sleep, your emotional state, and any other symptoms you're having like night sweats.
When you do see a doctor, make sure you're direct and tell them that you have a bedwetting issue. Break through the embarrassment! Otherwise you won't be able to get the help that might make your situation better.
When You See the Doctor
Your doctor will check for a number of things. They'll do a physical exam, a neurological exam, and a urine test to see if any of those provide clues as to the underlying reason for the bedwetting.
After this, they may help you find a product solution, recommend a behavioral change, or depending on the situation, prescribe medication that might help.
In the meantime while you figure out what's going on, you should manage the bedwetting as you need with the appropriate products like waterproof sheets, a waterproof duvet cover, briefs to wear at night, etc.
People who use these products say they're much better than cleaning the sheets and clothes. If you're embarrassed by the prospect of purchasing them, you can always do it online.
Some people, for whatever reason, find that nothing works and that bedwetting is an on-going part of their life. This doesn't have to be the end of the world. Like one person says:
"I refuse to let it bother me. I wear glasses because my eyes don't work very well: some people have hearing aids - some need pacemakers or other devices or medications to help things that go wrong with the body. I wear nappies because my bladder doesn't work properly, and because none of the medications I have tried have ever worked. It's just one of those things as far as I am concerned and I no longer let it worry me. My wife prefers me to wear a nappy to save the sheets and so that I don't wee all over her. So I wet myself while I am asleep - yeah, so what? It's no big deal. And even if I do start wetting myself during the day too, then I will wear nappies 24/7 if necessary."
Remember that this is not who you are—this is simply a problem you have.
- "Bedwetting." (no date). National Association for Incontinence. Retrieved Feb. 27, 2017.
- Stearn, Dr. Margaret. "Bedwetting in Teenagers and Adults: Causes." Dec. 30, 2011. embarrassingproblems.com. Retrieved Feb. 27, 2017.
- Mapes, Diane. "Bed-wetting blues: Millions of adults suffer, too." Feb. 18, 2009. nbcnews.com. Retrieved Feb. 27, 2017.
- Castle, Eric P. MD. "Urinary Incontinence." Nov. 18, 2014. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved Feb. 27, 2017.
Has anyone else ever dreamt of going to the bathroom, and then actually wet the bed?
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