Sleepwalking can be disturbing to encounter, but it is typically a harmless sleep disorder. Sleepwalking is most common in children and is usually outgrown. Sleepwalking is also genetic, so if you are or were a sleepwalker, it is likely that your child will be too.

sleepwalkingWhat is Sleepwalking

According to Mayo Clinic, Sleepwalking occurs during the deep sleep cycle. A person who is sleepwalking will not be aware of their actions and will not remember them in the morning. Sleepwalking can be caused by excessive fatigue, new surroundings, anxiety and stress, or medications. Sleepwalking in children is rarely a sign of other problems and unless it seems to be causing excessive sleepiness during the day, or continues into teen years, it does not need to be treated. If it causes excessive sleepiness, it may be linked to other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleepwalking includes, but is not limited actual walking. Sitting up, repeated motions such as eye rubbing, and talking or screaming are also considered sleepwalking.

How to Manage Sleepwalking

It is rumored that it can be harmful to wake a sleepwalking person. This is not true. However, it is very difficult to wake a person in deep sleep, and a child especially will be easily frightened if woken while sleepwalking. This makes the easiest course of action simply directing the sleepwalker back to bed.

There are no immediate risks to sleep walking. However, because the sleepwalker is unaware of their motions and surroundings, they can injure themselves during their nightly roams. You can help protect sleepwalkers by clearing bedroom floors so they are free from obstacles, locking doors and windows, locking doors to any rooms with harmful items, and placing baby gates over stairs. Helping your child get enough sleep can cut back on sleepwalking episodes. Set a regular sleeping schedule for your child, this includes naps, bedtimes and wake-up times. This will help your child have a routine and sleep better during the night.

If you are concerned about your sleepwalking, or your child’s, feel free to consult a doctor. A doctor will help you determine any possible underlying problems and solutions, or give you piece of mind if the sleepwalking is a normal occurrence. The good news is a few nights spent sleepwalking normally will not interfere with a restful night of sleep and leave you or your child sleepy during the day.


Photo “Unmade Bed” courtesy of Lisa Murray

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