Have your parents ever seen you get up and walk around in your sleep? If so, you're
one of many kids who sleepwalk.
Sleepwalking usually happens in the first few hours of sleep
during deep sleep. Not all sleepwalkers actually walk. Some sit up or stand in bed
or act like they're awake (but dazed) when, in fact, they're asleep! But most do get
up and move around for a few seconds or for as long as half an hour.
Sleepwalkers' eyes are open, but they don't see the same way they do when they're
awake. They'll often think they're in different rooms of the house or different places
altogether. Sleepwalkers tend to go back to bed on their own and they won't remember
what happened in the morning.
Sleepwalking may run in families and sometimes happens when a person is sick, has
a fever, is not getting
enough sleep, or is stressed.
Is Sleepwalking a Serious Problem?
If sleepwalking happens a lot, every night or so, it's a good idea for your mom
or dad to take you to see your doctor. But sleepwalking once in a while usually isn't
something to worry about. Still, it may look funny or even scary for the people who
see a sleepwalker in action.
It's important, of course, to keep a sleepwalker safe. Precautions should be taken
so the person is less likely to fall down, run into something, or walk out the front
door while sleepwalking.
What Will the Doctor Do?
There's no cure for sleepwalking, but the doctor can talk to you about what's happening
and try to find ways to help you sleep more soundly. Most kids grow out of sleepwalking.
For kids who sleepwalk often, doctors may recommend a treatment called scheduled
awakening. This means your parent will gently wake you up a little before
your usual sleepwalking time, which can help stop sleepwalking. In rare cases, a doctor
may prescribe medicine to help someone sleep.
Here are some tips to help prevent sleepwalking:
Relax at bedtime by listening to soft music or relaxation tapes.
Have a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.
Keep noise and lights low while you're trying to sleep.
Avoid drinking a lot in the evening and be sure to go to the bathroom before going
to bed. (A full bladder can contribute to sleepwalking.)
How to Take Care of a Sleepwalker
One thing you can do to help is to clear rooms and hallways of furniture or obstacles
a sleepwalker might encounter during the night. If there are stairs or dangerous areas,
a grown-up should close doors and windows or install safety gates.
You also might have heard that sleepwalkers can get confused and scared if you
startle them into being awake. That's true. So what do you do if you see someone sleepwalking?
You should call for a grown-up who can gently steer the person back to bed. And after
the sleepwalker is tucked back in bed, it's time for you to get some shut-eye too!