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Health Information For Parents
Sleepwalking is very common in kids. Most kids who walk in their sleep only do so occasionally and outgrow it by the teen years.
Kids tend to sleepwalk within an hour or two of falling asleep and may walk around for anywhere from a few seconds to 30 minutes. It’s difficult to wake someone up while they’re sleepwalking. When awakened, a person may feel groggy and disoriented for a few minutes.
Despite its name, sleepwalking (also called somnambulism) involves more than just walking. Sleepwalking behaviors can be:
No matter what kids do during sleepwalking episodes, though, it’s unlikely that they’ll remember ever having done it!
Still, some simple steps can keep your young sleepwalker safe while traipsing about.
Sleepwalking is far more common in kids than in adults. It may run in families, so if you or your partner are or were sleepwalkers, your child may be too.
Things that may bring on a sleepwalking episode include:
Getting out of bed and walking around while still sleeping is the most obvious sleepwalking symptom. But young sleepwalkers may also:
Also, sleepwalkers’ eyes are open, but they don’t see the same way they do when they’re awake. Often, they think they’re in different rooms of the house or different places altogether.
Sometimes, these other conditions may happen with sleepwalking:
Sleepwalking itself is not harmful. But sleepwalking can be hazardous because sleepwalking kids aren’t awake and may not realize what they’re doing, such as walking down stairs or opening windows.
Sleepwalking is not usually a sign that something is emotionally or psychologically wrong with a child. And it doesn’t cause any emotional harm. Sleepwalkers probably won’t even remember the nighttime stroll.
Sleepwalking isn’t dangerous by itself. But it’s important to take precautions so that your sleepwalking child is less likely to fall down, run into something, walk out the front door, or drive (if your teen is a sleepwalker).
To help keep your sleepwalker out of harm’s way:
There’s usually no need to treat sleepwalking unless the episodes are:
If the sleepwalking happens often, causes problems, or your child hasn’t outgrown it by the early teen years, talk to your doctor.
For kids who sleepwalk often, doctors may recommend a treatment called scheduled awakening. This means you will gently wake your child up a little before the usual sleepwalking time, which can help stop sleepwalking. In rare cases, a doctor may prescribe medicine to aid sleep.
To help prevent sleepwalking episodes:
The next time you see your nighttime wanderer, don’t panic. Just steer your child back to the safety and comfort of his or her bed.
A night terror seems similar to a nightmare, but it’s far more dramatic. Night terrors can be alarming, but aren’t usually cause for concern or a sign of a medical issue.
Nightmares aren’t totally preventable, but parents can help kids feel better when they have one and ease their transition back to sleep.
Does your teen have trouble falling asleep at night? Is he or she sleepy during the day? Find out if it’s just a normal part of adolescence, or if something else is to blame.
Have you ever walked in your sleep? If so, you’re not alone. Check out this article to find out more.
Getting enough sleep can be a problem for children of any age. Read this article to learn tips on bedtime schedules and routines for your child.
Preschoolers sleep about 11 to 12 hours during each 24-hour period, and it’s important to help them develop good habits for getting to sleep.
Insomnia can be a big problem for teens. Read our tips on getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep problems can keep some teens awake at night even when they want to sleep. If that sounds like you, find out what you can do.
Bedwetting is an issue that millions of families face every night. Most of the time it’s not a sign of any deeper medical or emotional issues and kids eventually grow out of it.
Brief pauses in breathing during sleep can be normal. But when breathing stops often or for longer periods, it can be a cause for concern.
When you get a good night’s sleep, it’s like giving your body a tiny vacation. Find out the scoop on sleep in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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