What to Do When Your Child Sleepwalks

Did you sleepwalk as a child? Then chances are your child will be a sleep walker too!

Sleepwalking. As strange as a phenomenon as it is, it’s one which is relatively common. Studies tell us that about 15% of children sleepwalk, usually between the ages of seven and eleven. And sleepwalking is believed to be somewhat hereditary, meaning if you were a sleepwalker as a child, chances are your children will be too.

When you see a person sleepwalking, a question which comes to mind is, is he awake or is he asleep? According to sleep disorder specialist, Dr. Harvey Muldovsky, the answer is a little of both. “The usual story is that the child has been in a deep sleep when, about an hour or two after going to sleep, the child suddenly seems to awaken. The interesting thing is that the child is neither fully asleep nor fully awake at the same time. So they can maneuver themselves around objects and walk about.”

Because children are not completely awake when sleepwalking, parents should be on guard. Dr. Muldovsky explains that “there are dangers especially if a child were to wander to places where they might hurt themselves. For example if they are in a second story they might fall down the stairs, or they might even wander down the street.”

These dangers can easily be eliminated with a few safeguards. “In those cases precautions have to be put into place such as a gate at the top of the stairs or a suitable latch at the front door would be another protective device.” And if you witness your child wandering, Dr. Muldovsky adds that parents should gently guide their child back to bed.

Finally, if your child’s sleep habits such as sleepwalking or nightmares have you concerned, don’t hesitate to consult with your child’s doctor. Sometimes disturbed sleep can signify that something is upsetting them during their waking life.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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