Sleepwalk in children

Does Your Child Sleepwalk ?

Sleepwalking is a problem that parents face with young children. Typically, after sleepwalking happens after 2-3 hours of sleep. Child will get out of the bed and walk in the house or might visit siblings or parents’ bedroom. There are instances where child would open the front door to step out.

Sleepwalk also known as sleep terror. It is a disorder condition sometimes need medical help. Child might remember the walk sometime. Many times, incident might not be registered in the mind of the child.  If the sleepwalk happens after a bad dream, child might be able to remember the walk once they get up. Sleepwalk could last for few minutes to an hour in most cases.

Reasons for sleepwalking:

If a child is anxious before going to bed or experienced an unhappy day, then it could lead to sleepwalk. Children who are aged between one to eight years sleepwalk more than other kids.

During sleepwalk,  child might sit on the bed, get out of the bed, and walk around simply or might start to look for something. They may carry the backpack, try to get dressed, comb hair – all without any expression and if you call the name, child might not revert.  For those who does not know that child is sleepwalking, it might look like purposeful act. Most kids will not remember what happened previous night when you ask. Younger kids might wet bed before sleepwalking.

What causes sleepwalk?

Sleep walking is hereditary and could run in the families. Common reasons for child’s sleepwalk:

  1. Lack of sleep
  2. Fatigue
  3. Stress, anxiety, and tiredness
  4. Fights in the family that disturbs mind
  5. Fights with siblings
  6. Illness
  7. Not urinating before bed and going to bed with full bladder
  8. Medicines
  9. Noise, light and change of scene or new environment
  10. Watching scary movie before bed or in the day
  11. Sacred to sleep alone and away from parents and sibling

How to address sleepwalk in children? If you see your child sleepwalk

  1. Stay calm and just follow the child to make sure child is safe. Do not touch or disturb.
  2. If you know your child sleepwalks, make sure front door is locked and install gate on staircases.
  3. Close and shut windows that can be easily accessible to go on roof or next building.
  4. If  you have a open tank or well – close it.
  5. Do not try to wake up the child. Try gently to pursue child to go back to bed. If you shout, child might get scared, and it could lead to disturbed sleep.
  6. Use calm and whispering voice – do not make loud sound. Assure child that he or she is safe and sooth the child till it gets back to bed.
  7. If you have guests, babysitters, nanny or caregivers, inform them about your children sleepwalk. Tell them not to touch the child or not to talk.
  8. Make sure everyday child goes to the bed same time.
  9. Close the curtain, blinds and let the room get dark so that child will not have trouble to sleep. Remove TV, stereo and take away the smart phones from child’s room.
  10. Tell child to use bathroom and empty bladder before going to bed.
  11. Do not give any caffeinated drink or soda, chocolates  to child before bedtime.
  12. Let the daily activities become a routine and keep regular, predictable activity. Consistency in the behavior and routine brings sleep.  Children must get enough, recommended hours of sleep for children -Toddler (1-2 years old) 11-14 hours Preschool (3-5 years old) 10-13 hours :School age (6-12 years old) 9-12 hours :Teen (13-18 years old) 8-10 hours

If the sleepwalk increases and happens two to three times a week, if child has fatigue, if child opens the door and walks out, does not comeback to normalcy by morning – contact doctor and seek advice.  Do not neglect the sleepwalk of your child. If neglected, it could lead to major problem and adult insomnia that will have huge impact on not only physical health, also mental health of the child.

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Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: December 16, 2022

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