GROWING KIDS – Sleepwalking is also called somnambulism. While in deep sleep, the child gets up from bed and walks around unconsciously.
This could be dangerous. He may bump into things or fall down the stairs. Sleepwalking kids are even known to get out of the house and wander around.
Although,…[pq]…a child who sleepwalks does seem to retain some instinctive awareness of his surroundings, which helps him navigate around some obstacles, this awareness is rather selective and shallow.[/pq]
He may mumble repetitively. When you call him, he is unresponsive and blank-faced.
Should I wake up my child when he sleepwalks?
Don’t! It’s not a good idea, doctors advise.
Imagine suddenly being shaken awake from a sound sleep, and instead of being snug in your bead, you are out of it, perhaps someplace strange. How much more frightened and confused you would feel if you were a child! So just keep your cool.
- Sleepwalking usually occur during the ages 3 to 12.
- Among school-aged children, 15 in 100 will experience sleepwalking at least once.
- Sleepwalking and night terrors usually occur in the first 3 hours of sleep. Nightmares usually occur in the second half of the night.
- Children who sleepwalk have no recollection of what happened. They don’t even remember dreaming. What’s important is keeping a sleepwalking child out of harm’s way. Get obstacles out of the way. Keep windows and doors locked. Lead him gently back to bed.
- If a child’s sleepwalking attacks are persistent, you may have to put up a stair gate. You could also try preempting it – by waking him up at about the time a sleepwalking episode would begin. Wait 15 minutes. Then let him go back to sleep.
Is something wrong with my child?
You might be asking yourself this. The thing is, you shouldn’t be too alarmed if your child is sleepwalking. Remember that your child’s body and brain are still developing.
Doctors speculate that these particular sleep problems are incidental by-products of the process of growing-up. The child’s physical, emotional, mental and social pathways are busy making connections and correlations at a frenetic pace.
If your child sleepwalks, it doesn’t immediately mean that he is emotionally disturbed. Very likely, by the time your child is a teenager, he would have outgrown these night episodes.
Why do they happen?
Sleepwalking can be acquired if your parents also sleepwalked in their childhood. Think back, did you use to sleepwalk as a child? It has been observed that if one or both parents were sleepwalkers, their children would likely have the same problems.
Fever or illnesses seem to aggravate the phenomenon. Stressful situations like domestic squabbles and changing sleep routines could trigger them.
Make sure your child is getting enough rest because sleep deprivation is known to be responsible for several sleep disorders – sleepwalking and night terrors among them.
Rarely, an underlying medical condition that interferes with sleep could be responsible. So if the sleepwalking becomes chronic, it is advisable that you consult with a pediatrician. The pediatrician might decide to prescribe medication to suppress the attacks.