Sleepwalking in Children

If you have a child who sleepwalks, then you might be wondering what sleepwalking in children implies. Is it something serious that you should be concerned about? Let’s find out.

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Sleepwalking in children is a common occurrence among children from 3 to 10 years old and is more often observes in boys than in girls. When a child sleepwalks, he or she is not fully aware of it and does several things aside from walking. This form of sleeping disorder is called Somnambulism and may occur once in a month or so. Sleepwalking in children usually occurs an hour or two after the child has gone to bed and may last from a few seconds to an hour. It may not signify any underlying health issues but frequent episodes can set off health problems because it interrupts the child’s natural sleeping pattern. Fortunately, children will outgrow this disorder.

What causes Sleepwalking in Children?

The real cause of sleepwalking in children remains a mystery. But experts believe that the disorder occurs as a result of anxiety, fatigue and poorly developed sleeping cycle. Genetics may also come into play such as in identical twins, or even a first degree family relative that had a history of walking while asleep. In addition, there are conditions that trigger sleepwalking like sleep apnea, arrhythmia, fever, as well as nighttime seizures and asthma. Sleepwalking happens when the cognition part of the brain is asleep while the mobility part is awake.

Symptoms of sleepwalking in children

Signs and symptoms of sleepwalking disorder in children include incomprehensible soft or loud mutterings, sitting up in bed suddenly, walking or running around the bedroom and urinating in the wrong place. They may look confused and if you ask them, you will not get any answer.

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Can sleepwalking be dangerous?

Although it rarely happens, sleepwalking may result to injury. So it is very important that you keep dangerous objects or items out of your child’s reach and lock the doors and windows to prevent injury. Also, guide him or her back to bed and avoid yelling or waking him or her up.

How is Sleepwalking in Children Treated?

Sleepwalking in children does not necessarily require treatment because it eventually disappears as they get older. But for chronic episodes of sleepwalking, it is best that you bring your child to a doctor to rule out any underlying problems.

Treatment may come in the form of prescribed medications. It may also come in the form of therapy to reduce the frequency of sleepwalking episodes.

Parents can also chalk out a schedule of the timings when the child sleepwalks and wake him or her so that there can be a new sleep pattern that does not cause this problem. Since bed-wetting and urination in children with sleepwalking can only add to the woes, it is better if the parent does not give fluids to the child to drink, before bed-time or allow him or her to use the loo before going to sleep.

Living with Sleepwalking Disorder

You can do something to help your child deal with sleepwalking disorder. Keeping a record of your child’s sleepwalking episodes will help you figure out the events and activities that may trigger him or her to sleepwalk at night and the time he or she wakes up. Sleepwalking disorder is sometimes resolved by waking him or her around 10 to 15 minutes before he or she starts to sleepwalk. Installing alarms on the door awakens everyone in the family should your child sleepwalks.

Sleepwalking in children may disappear when the child gets older, but it does not hurt to seek medical attention especially if it occurs more frequently for long periods of time.

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