What is Sleepwalking?

child walkingYou've seen cliché depictions of sleepwalking in TV shows and movies, but it’s a little different (maybe even a tad creepy) when you experience sleepwalking in your own home.

According to SleepFoundation.org, sleepwalking is a behavior disorder that results in a person walking around or doing other activities while asleep. Sleepwalking is more common in children, but is also possible among adults. It is estimated that somewhere between 1% and 15% of the general population sleepwalks.

Symptoms of sleepwalking include:

  • Talking in sleep
  • No memory of walking around or other activities during sleep
  • Difficulty waking the sleeping person
  • Inappropriate behavior while asleep (more common in children)
  • Screaming while asleep
  • Attacking anyone who tries to awaken the sleeping person

Did you know?
About 25% of children have experienced at least one episode of sleepwalking!

Many things can contribute to someone’s sleepwalking, including genetics, medical conditions, and the environment. If you or the other parent of your child sleepwalked at some point, it’s possible that your child will, too. Stress, sedative drugs, and a lack of sleep can also cause someone to sleepwalk.

As far as medical conditions go, fever, nighttime seizures or asthma, and sleep apnea have been connected to sleepwalking. But contrary to popular belief, nonmedical sleep problems – like fear of the dark – do not affect sleepwalking, according to WebMD.

Sleepwalking occurs during the deeper, REM stage of sleep, so children tend to start sleepwalking within an hour or two after falling asleep, according to KidsHealth.org. Sleepwalking can last for anywhere from a couple of seconds to 30 minutes.  And while sleepwalking itself is not harmful, sleepwalkers are sometimes in danger as they do things like wander down stairs or opening windows. If your child isn't doing anything too crazy, it may be wise to guide him gently back to his bed, so you don’t scare him.

It is not dangerous to wake a sleepwalker, and in fact could be dangerous if you don’t wake him.

However, also contrary to popular belief, it is not dangerous to wake a sleepwalker, and in fact could be dangerous if you don’t wake him. If he’s doing something that could be dangerous to himself or another person, it is best to wake him up.

If the sleepwalking is not affecting your child’s everyday life, it is usually not necessary to treat sleepwalking at all. By the time your child is a teenager, she will probably have outgrown it.

 

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What is Sleepwalking?

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