If sleepwalking is a problem for you or your child, try these suggestions.
- Make the environment safe for sleepwalking. If sleepwalking has led to injuries or has the potential to do so, consider some of these precautions to prevent injury: Close and lock all windows and exterior doors at night. You might even lock interior doors or place alarms or bells on the doors. Block doorways or stairways with a gate, and move electrical cords or other objects that pose a tripping hazard. Sleep in a ground floor bedroom, if possible. Place any sharp or fragile objects out of reach, and lock up all weapons. If your child sleepwalks, don't let him or her sleep in a bunk bed.
- Get more sleep. Fatigue can contribute to sleepwalking. If you're sleep deprived, try an earlier bedtime, a more regular sleep schedule or a short nap, especially for toddlers.
- Establish a regular, relaxing routine before bedtime. Do quiet, calming activities before bed, such as reading books, doing puzzles or soaking in a warm bath. Meditation or relaxation exercises may help, too.
- Put stress in its place. Identify the issues that cause stress, and brainstorm possible ways to handle the stress. Talk about what's bothering you. Or if your child seems anxious or stressed, talk with him or her about any concerns.
- Look for a pattern. For several nights, note ― or have another person in your home note ― how many minutes after bedtime a sleepwalking episode occurs. If the timing is fairly consistent, this information is useful in planning anticipatory awakenings.
Try to be positive. However disruptive, sleepwalking usually isn't a serious condition — and it usually goes away on its own.
July 31, 2014
- Sleep-wake disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 29, 2014.
- Carter KA, et al. Common sleep disorders in children. American Family Physician. 2014;89:368.
- Sleep-wake disorders. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx. Accessed April 30, 2014.
- National sleep disorders research plan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/sleep/res_plan/section5/section5f.html. Accessed April 30, 2014.
- Sleepwalking. National Sleep Foundation. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/sleepwalking/page/0%2C1/. Accessed April 30, 2014.
- Kotagal S. Sleepwalking and other parasomnias in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 30, 2014.
- Labelle MA, et al. Psychopathologic correlates of adult sleepwalking. Sleep Medicine. 2013;14:1348.
- Ebrahim IO. The nonrapid eye movement parasomnias: Recent advances and forensic aspects. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. 2013;19:609.
- Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 7, 2014.
- Sibler MH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 16, 2014.
- Sateia M. International Classification of Sleep Disorders. 3rd ed. Darien, Ill.: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2014. http://www.aasmnet.org/EBooks/ICSD3. Accessed May 9, 2014.
- Kotagal S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 19, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.