Authored by Katharine Foust in Child and Teen Health
Published on 09-18-2009
Many children and adults sleepwalk. Parents tend to get concerned and think there is something wrong with the child when in actuality, sleepwalking is not an indicator that there is a problem with the child. The most important thing a parent can do if their child is sleepwalking is to make sure the house is safe for them to walk around in.
One way to make sure the house is safe is to put locks on the tops of the doors so that the child cannot wander outside in their sleep. Sharp objects should also be put up so that the child does not injure themselves. Be careful if there are any stairs in the house and try to keep the child on the ground floor if possible so there is not chance that they will fall down the stairs.
If you find your child sleepwalking, you should not try to wake them.This will only startle them and really isn’t necessary.Instead, calmly and gently guide them back to their room so they can get back in bed.One way to know when your child is up is to place a bell on their door so that it rings when
they leave their room.This may wake you up so that you can guide them back to bed.
It is also a good practice to begin a sleepwalking journal and make a notation of when the child gets up as well as what they do while they are up. Be sure to note the times on the journal. Once you see that a pattern has been established, you can be sure to wake the child up about 10 or 15 minutes before they would normally get up and begin sleepwalking. You may have to do this for a great length
of time to break their habit of sleepwalking.
Most people have some pattern to the way they sleep. Some of us wake up at the same time every night, whether it is to go to the bathroom or to simply roll over and go back to sleep. Others roll over at the same time every night. Obviously, some people sleepwalk nightly, getting up at the same time every night. By waking the child up every night at the same time, you will help them to establish a
new pattern that may consist of them eventually waking up on their own at the same time every night. While this may seem disruptive to their sleep, it is certainly safer than them wondering around the house all night as they sleep.
Though you shouldn’t be overly concerned if your child is sleepwalking, you should use these measures or similar ones to end the habit so that the child does not hurt themselves walking around the house. Again, keep in mind that sleepwalking is not necessarily indicative of a deep seated problem as most people assume it is. In reality, the individual is actually sleeping very deeply, enough so that they
are able to walk around the house without waking up.