Does your child sleepwalk? You’re not alone. In fact, sleepwalking is quite common in children until they reach their teen years.
Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, usually is nothing to worry about. It almost always disappears on its own, but there are some things you can do in the meantime.
Protect Your Child from Injury
The most important thing you can do if your child sleepwalks is to prevent him (or her) from getting hurt.
- Close and lock windows and doors.
- Remove breakable or sharp objects from the area around the child’s bed. Pick up clutter from the floor.
- Install safety gates at the top of the stairs and in doorways.
- Do not let your child sleep in a top bunk.
- Hide car keys.
- If there are guns in the house, be sure they are unloaded and safely locked away.
If your child sleepwalks, don’t try to awaken him. Just gently guide him back to the bed while saying soothing words like, “It’s OK. You’re safe and at home.” Stay with him until he goes back to sleep.
Be Proactive to Minimize Sleepwalking
Try these methods to help your child sleep soundly through the night.
- Cut out caffeine, including soft drinks and chocolate, after lunchtime.
- Help your child relax at bedtime by playing calming music or relaxation recordings.
- Stick to a regular sleep and nap schedule.
- Avoid too many liquids in the evening.
- Be sure your child goes to the bathroom before bedtime.
- Make your child’s bedroom quiet and dark.
When Should You Call a Doctor?
Most children outgrow sleepwalking after a few episodes. But if your teenager sleepwalks, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor.
Also let the doctor know if your child:
- Has frequent or severe sleepwalking episodes.
- Gets injured often while sleepwalking.
- Leaves the house while sleepwalking.
- Is often excessively sleepy or fatigued during the day.
- Seems to have a lot of stress, anxiety or depression that might contribute to sleepwalking.
If you are concerned your child might have a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, or seizure disorder, tell the doctor.
Try Not to Lose Sleep Over It
Like many other childhood problems, sleepwalking may provide some frustration and humor, but it will usually resolve on its own with time.
Do you have a funny sleepwalking story? Does your child sleepwalk?
Dr. Jessica Lanerie is a pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s new Sienna Plantation Clinic. After receiving her medical degree from Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Medicine in 2013, Dr. Lanerie completed a residency in Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in 2016. Her clinical interests include weight management, asthma and eczema.