Prevent Sleepwalking in Children
Edited by Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles, Eng, Robbi, Lynn and 1 other
Catching your child swaying out of the bedroom half-asleep, uttering incomprehensible words or trying to open the front door late at night can be very scary for parents. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, up to 17 percent of children experience sleepwalking, but they usually outgrow it once they reach their teenage years. Sleepwalking is most commonly observed in children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old of both genders, but it can affect older or younger children. It typically occurs within the first 3 hours of falling asleep, and may last for up to 15 minutes.
Medical experts refer to sleepwalking as a sleep disorder that doesn't affect the child's physical, intellectual or psychological capacity in any harmful way, and it can occur in healthy children. There are some instances, though, in which sleepwalking happens so often that it disrupts the regular sleeping patterns of children and makes them sleepy at school or less energetic during playtime.
Sleepwalking can cause a child to get into dangerous situations very easily. Sleepwalking children typically don't remember anything that occurred during the sleepwalking episode, and they're operating with extremely impaired judgment. This means that they might fall down stairs or go out a window, try to drive the car, urinate in the wrong place, cut themselves on sharp objects or break things. Rest assured that there are several things you can do to keep your child safe during these episodes, and even reduce their occurrence.
- 1 What is Sleepwalking?
- 2 How Would I Know if My Kid is Sleepwalking?
- 3 What are the Main Causes of Sleepwalking in Children?
- 4 Ways to Prevent or Minimize Sleepwalking in Children
- 5 Safety Tips for Sleepwalking Children
- 6 Consult a Sleep Therapist
- 7 Questions and Answers
- 7.1 Can a high fever cause sleepwalking?
- 7.2 How do I cope with a sleepwalker going out front door?
- 7.3 How do I stop a sleepwalking child from getting out of their room?
- 7.4 How do I prevent a sleepwalker from falling down the stairs?
- 7.5 How do I stop a sleepwalker from turning on the stove?
- 7.6 How do I stop a sleepwalker from hurting themselves in the kitchen?
- 7.7 How do I stop a sleepwalking child from falling in the pool?
- 8 Comments
What is Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking is also referred to as "somnambulism", "parasomnia of arousal", or "noctambulism" which categorically happens at the first two hours of sleep, specifically during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) cycle or "light sleep" at night. However, it is said to be more apparent in "deep sleep" or the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. This is the time when some areas of the brain are asleep while others are fully functional.
Parents need to watch out for is the safety of children during these sleepwalking episodes, especially if they tend to get out of the bedroom or even the main door. Some teenagers even drive while having these sleepwalking episodes. The home should be childproofed to avoid injury. This is what parents should be most concerned about and prepared for.
In extreme cases, medical interventions can be put in place to modify and lessen the occurrences of sleepwalking. Proven methods to prevent or minimize the occurrences of sleepwalking in children are done to help them be more productive and receptive of the world at this particular stage. It is important to be able to get enough sleep, especially in a child's growing years. Children need uninterrupted sleep of at least 10-12 hours each night which is radically shifted by sleepwalking.
How Would I Know if My Kid is Sleepwalking?
Most sleepwalking children display certain characteristic behavior which is similar to things they do when fully awake such as brushing teeth or changing clothes, and sometimes if you do not check, you may not know the difference of whether kids are sleepwalking or not. Here are some signs to look out for:
- 1Having a glassy eyed expression.
- 3Difficult to wake or stir up.
- 4Performing routine daytime activities.
- 5Shouting, crying, or thrashing things around.
- 8Moving clumsily around the area or even down the stairs.
What are the Main Causes of Sleepwalking in Children?
It is not surprising that healthy and normal kids do experience sleepwalking episodes at some point in their lives. There are certain children who are more susceptible to sleepwalking due to exposure to some factors such as the following:
Ways to Prevent or Minimize Sleepwalking in Children
Occasional sleepwalking in children should not be a cause of concern for caregivers and parents, as kids usually just snap out of the whole limbo when they reach adulthood. However, if sleepwalking persists and worsens over time and disrupts your kid's life in general, then it is definitely high time to let expert hands deal with the matter. There are some ways you can try that can minimize or prevent sleepwalking in children. Here are some tried-and-tested tips to get you started:
- 1Condition and train your child to follow a regular sleeping schedule.
- 2Ask your child to urinate before bedtime.
- 3Avoid consuming caffeinated and sweetened food and beverages before bedtime.
- 4Make the bedroom more conducive for sleeping.
Safety Tips for Sleepwalking Children
Sleepwalking in children is not necessarily a cause of concern. What some parents find challenging is keeping sleepwalking kids safe when they are having these nighttime episodes. Here are some surefire tips to keep kids safe while sleepwalking:
- 2Keep the bedroom area clean and clutter-free before bedtime.
- 3Allow the kids to sleep in bedrooms located on the ground floor area rather than upstairs.
- 5Install CCTV cameras around the house or the kid's bedroom.
- 7Secure any sharp or dangerous objects in the home such as knives, firearms or other weapons.
Consult a Sleep Therapist
Many parents become obsessed with ways to help their children snap out of sleepwalking episodes. Medical experts agree that sleepwalking is treatable and is not considered to be a serious medical condition. Most kids grow out of the sleepwalking episodes and come out of it as a healthy and regular individual. However, if sleepwalking is caused by other underlying medical conditions or diseases, then that would be an entirely different story.
Sleep therapists who are trained to deal with varied sleeping disorders will work together with a medical specialist to treat the specific illness that could have precipitated sleepwalking with medications and other treatment methods. Sleepwalking can be reduced with the use of certain treatment modalities such as mental imagery, relaxation and meditation techniques, exercises, and anticipatory awakenings which come in a series of sessions that are proven to help alleviate and lessen the occurrence of sleepwalking and other sleep disorders in children. In some cases, a child will need to undergo a sleep study to determine the root of the problem.
Questions and Answers
Can a high fever cause sleepwalking?
Yes having a fever could cause sleep walking. Sleepwalking is most often caused by stress, but having a high fever a being sick could very easily count as that. The best thing you can do is keep an eye on the child. Figure out when they sleepwalk and protect them from injuring themselves. You could always but a bell on the child's door to know when they are up. The sleepwalking episodes will most likely end on their own. If the sleepwalking continues for any length of time you should consult your local family doctor.
How do I cope with a sleepwalker going out front door?
The best way to stop a sleepwalker from going out the front door is to install additional locks or child safety locks on the door. You can also install an alarm on the door so you'll be aware if anyone tries to go through the door.
How do I stop a sleepwalking child from getting out of their room?
Try installing extra locks or safety locks on the door. If your child is small, install safety gates outside of his or her bedroom. You can also install an alarm on the bedroom door so you'll be aware if your child leaves the room.
How do I prevent a sleepwalker from falling down the stairs?
To prevent a sleepwalker from falling down the stairs, install a secure gate at the top of the stairs.
How do I stop a sleepwalker from turning on the stove?
If you have an electric stove, remove the burners or unplug the stove before bedtime. If it's a gas stove, remove the burner knobs.
How do I stop a sleepwalker from hurting themselves in the kitchen?
Put away any sharp knives, utensils, breakable objects in a secure place that's out of reach. Remove the burner knobs on gas stoves or unplug electric ones. If the sleepwalker tends to eat during episodes, install a lock on the fridge.
How do I stop a sleepwalking child from falling in the pool?
Try installing extra locks or safety locks on the door. If your child is small, install safety gates outside of his or her bedroom. You can also install an alarm on the bedroom door so you'll be aware if your child leaves the room. If you have an above-ground pool, remove all access ladders and make sure the cover is in place and fully secure. Make sure all access gates are locked and any objects that a child can use to climb over the gate, such as chairs or tables, are out of reach. You can even install a pool alarm that will alert you to the child's presence at the pool.
If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.