Sleepwalking – FAQ’s
How Common is Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking is common in about 18% of the population. It is more common in children than in adults.
Boys are more likely to sleepwalk than girls. The highest prevelance of sleepwalking was 16.7% at age 11 to 12 years of age. Sleep walking can have a hereditary tendency.
How serious is Sleepwalking?
Most people experience sleepwalking events infrequently and therefore do not result any harm to them or others. But some people experience events more frequently but not in the nights and it does not affect anyone.
But in most severe form, the events occur almost every night and are associated with physical injuries. Seek the professional help when sleep walker is having frequent episodes and injuries are occurring.
Because a sleep walking child or a person isn’t awake and may not realize what he or she is doing, such as walking down stairs or opening windows. Sleepwalkers tend to go back to bed on their own and perhaps won’t even remember the nighttime incident.
Anxiety and stress are possible causes of sleepwalking in adults. The child may feel humiliation, shame, guilt, anxiety and confusion when they are told about their sleepwalking behavior. It is important to handle the child's feelings about sleepwalking with care.
What can be done about Sleepwalking?
- Take plenty of rest as tiredness can trigger sleepwalking.
- Eliminate sleep deprivation by improving the sleep-wake cycle as it triggers sleepwalking
- Avoid intake of fluids before bedtime as a full bladder may trigger an episode.
- The sleep walker’s bedroom should be in the ground floor as there is a risk of falling in the sleep.
- Remove sharp and dangerous objects as they can harm the sleep walker.
- An accurate psychiatric evaluation could help to decide the need for psychiatric intervention.
- In some cases, Benzodiazepines have been proven to be useful in the treatment of this disorder. A small dose of diazepam or lorazepam eliminates the episodes or considerably reduces them. But consult the doctor before taking any medications.
What Can I Do to Keep My Child Safe?
Although sleepwalking isn’t dangerous by itself, it’s important to take necessary precautions so that your sleepwalking child is less likely to walk out from the front door, fall down, run into something, or drive (if he is a teenager).
Steps to keep your child safe:
- Throughout your home, lock the doors and windows so that they cannot harm themselves by falling down.
- Remove obstacles from your child’s room and throughout your home to prevent a fall.
- Don't awaken your sleepwalker because this might panic your child. Instead, gently guide him or her back to bed.
- Install safety gates outside your child’s room and/or at the top of any stairs.
- Remove sharp or harmful things from around your child’s bed.
- Especially eliminate mess on the floor (i.e., in your child’s bedroom or playroom).