Sleep Care

Sleepwalking In Children

Click here for more general information on sleepwalking, including sleepwalking in adults.

Sleepwalking is a disorder in which a person arises from his or her sleep and performs normal activities in a state of very low consciousness. Because of this, sleepwalkers rarely remember their episodes. Episodes of sleepwalking can last from anywhere from a few seconds to nearly an hour.  The cause of sleepwalking is not directly known but there is speculation that in children it is due a slow maturation process.

Children who sleepwalk usually exhibit the same symptoms:  sitting up in bed, rubbing their eyes, fidgeting with sheets and clothing, walking about their room.  Children who sleepwalk will look dazed, their movements will be clumsy, and their speech will be slurred. Generally, sleepwalking children do not respond when spoken to.

If your child is a sleepwalker, the most important thing to do is prevent injuries.  Remove any dangerous objects that your child may be able to reach.  Keeping doors and windows closed will also prevent injuries and falls.  When you find your child sleepwalking it is best to gently guide him or her back to bed.  Do your best to not wake him or her.

It is important to comfort your child and never make him or her feel shame for sleepwalking.   Sleepwalking is not a sign of psychological or emotional trouble in children, and most episodes of sleepwalking will not cause any emotional trauma to children.

Sleepwalking in children is generally left untreated, as most children grow out of it.  If your child is or has been sleepwalking often, speak with your doctor.  Journaling accounts of sleepwalking can help pinpoint the trigger of the episodes and ultimately end them.  There are also several types of low-dose anti-depressant medications that have been proven to suppress sleepwalking.  These drugs are generally viewed as a last resort for sleepwalking.

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