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3/8/24 blog post

when to be concerned about sleepwalking

in this article:

what is sleepwalking?

Are you the parent of a sleepwalker? Sleepwalking is fairly common. Up to 40% of children will have at least one episode of sleepwalking in their lifetime. During these episodes, your child may appear dazed and confused or are speaking and not making much sense. Fortunately, they are not always a major reason for concern.

Does your sleepwalker do odd things during the night, such as making a sandwich without eating it? Sleepwalking (or sleep eating!) is considered a disorder of arousal, and parents may be distressed if they observe their child having an episode.

Sleepwalking episodes are often triggered by insufficient or poor-quality sleep. If your child’s sleep schedule has been disrupted by a vacation, illness, or sleep-over with a friend in an unfamiliar environment, they may be more prone to experience another sleepwalking episode.

what are treatments/remedies for sleepwalking?

There are several ways that you can keep your child safe during sleepwalking episodes. You might consider safety-proofing the environment, such as:

  • Removing clutter that could become a tripping hazard
  • Locking doors and windows so that children are unable to leave the house at night
  • Setting up any door alarms that can alert parents to any movements during the night
  • Do not let your child sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed

Although your instinct may be to wake your child from a sleepwalking episode, the best response is to ensure their safety while gently guiding them back to their own bed. Often, children who get as little as 15 minutes of extra sleep per night may experience fewer sleepwalking episodes. You can gradually move their bedtime slightly earlier or allow them to sleep in a bit later if scheduling allows.

when should parents be concerned about sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking episodes tend to be brief, and often end without any intervention needed. If your child has a consistent sleep schedule and is still experiencing sleepwalking episodes or there are ongoing safety concerns, one of our pediatric sleep medicine experts can assess for any other factors that may be contributing to these episodes. A thorough evaluation will help to identify these factors, as well as develop a specific treatment plan for your child. Click here to schedule an appointment today. 

when to be concerned about sleepwalking


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Ryan Sinclair, PhD

behavioral health, psychology
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