The Weird Thing That (Usually) Stops Our Bodies From Pooping And Peeing While We Sleep, Explained

Discreetly eliminating waste (i.e., pooping and peeing) is one of the most embarrassing things we do as humans. Lucky for us, we can (usually) hold it until we get to a bathroom where we can take care of the situation privately.

But have you ever wondered what exactly allows you to do this? Especially while you’re asleep, and the rest of your body is completely relaxed?

The Big Sphincter Squeeze Explained

Things like antidiuretic hormone (ADH) also does you a solid by reducing urinary production while you sleep at night. Unfortunately, when stress levels are high, ADH levels go down, and your poop and pee can get a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Also guarding the doors are the two sphincters you have in both your urethra (where you pee) and at the end of your colon (where you poop). These are doors that can be opened or closed to let urine and feces pass through. You control your external sphincters, which you clench when you want to hold in your respective number one or number two.


Pixabay / cocoparisienne

Your internal sphincters stay contracted while you sleep until your bladder or colon fills up. When the internal pressure is too high, the internal sphincters start to relax. This sends a message to your brain to wake up.

That works for most of us, but some people still wet the bed. Why?

Why People Wet The Bed

ADH is the hormone that helps you stop producing urine while you sleep at night. It’s your body’s way of giving you a better chance of sleeping through the night. Without adequate ADH to slow urine production, your bladder fills up with urine and puts pressure on your urethra’s internal sphincter fast. Too fast.

Before your internal sphincter can tell your brain to wake up, the urine is already forcing its way out.

Bed Wetting In Children

ADH is a hormone that’s supposed to develop in children right around the time that most kids stop wetting the bed. ADH production can get messed with, though, when levels of the stress hormone cortisol are too high. When cortisol is high, ADH gets low, and bedwetting is more common.


Pixabay / dagon_

Kids that are abused or live in stressful households wet the bed for this reason. They’re stressed. Stress makes them gush cortisol, and cortisol lowers ADH. 

Why Old Folks Need To Wear Diapers

Your Grandpa has to wear diapers around the clock for the same reason: his ADH is low. Old folks can have other complications as well. Most commonly, it’s their internal sphincters and bladder muscles that start to wear down. They’ve done a lot of squeezing over the years, and they’re exhausted. All body systems break down over time.

The moral of the story is to chill out! Don’t be so stressed all the time. It will reduce your daytime cortisol production and raise your nighttime ADH levels. With these two hormones in balance, you’ll be less apt to wet the bed and more likely to have a restful night’s sleep.  

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