Managing Sleep Walking Habit in Children

Contributed by : Asha Lalwani, Dr Aliraza Khunt   
Managing Sleep Walking Habit in Children

Sleep walking is common in kids; Most kids outgrow it by they reach their teens.

Sleep walking is common in kids; Most kids outgrow it by they reach their teens. Sleep walking usually lasts between five to fifteen minutes. The child would not remember a thing they did while sleepwalking. If your child is sleep walking, never try to wake them in the middle of the movement as it can aggravate the situation. Just gently get them back on bed with guided instructions or holding their hand to get them back.

Causes of sleepwalking:

  • Lack of sleep or the child is too tired
  • If the child has irregular sleep schedules
  • In case of fever or other illness
  • It may occur due to some medication
  • Stress could also cause sleepwalking
  • Inheritance (family history)

What happens during sleep walking:

  • They are sleep talking.
  • They seem dazed.
  • They look confused.
  • They won’t respond to you.
  • They might keep rubbing their eyes or fussing with clothes.
  • Their eyes are open but they don’t see things the same way they do when they are awake.

If your child is sleep walking, you can prevent it by following these simple tips:

  • Do not give sugar or coffee before sleeping.
  • Have a cool atmosphere in the room – preferably 25 degrees.
  • Avoid giving water or fluids before bed time and make sure they go to toilet (empty their bladder) before going to bed.
  • Bed room should be dark, quiet and comfortable for a perfect sleep.
  • Sleep on same time daily.

Apart from these precautions, it is also advisable to take safety measures if your child sleep walks:

  • Lock the doors and windows at night.
  • Keep alarms on doors and windows.
  • Keeping hazardous things out of reach.
  • Sleep walker should not sleep on bunk bed.
  • Install safety gates on staircase.

Risk levels of Sleepwalking:

  1. Harmless- like sitting up
  2. Potentially dangerous- like wandering outside
  3. Inappropriate- like opening a closet door and peeing in it.

Severity of this condition:

It is not harmful but hazardous as they might run into doors or walk down the stairs, fall and hurt themselves. There is nothing wrong with your child’s emotional or psychological well-being. It does not cause any emotional harm.

When to see a doctor:

  • When this becomes a regular episode.
  • When your child stays sleepy all day.
  • When he or she either harms him/herself or others in sleep.
  • Consult a psychologist in extreme behavioural pattern to check whether there is any specific brain activity responsible for this.

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