Sleepwalking: what to do when the sleepwalker is a child?

Some people are able to walk and do activities while they are asleep. They usually wake up in the middle of the night, get out of bed, walk, go to the bathroom, drink water, and even leave the house, while they are still deep in sleep and not waking up. This strange behavior that can be the object of fear and of some myths, is sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking is not the result of any magic or spell, although it is understandable that it awakens our alert as the sleepwalker person wanders as if in a waking state, even with his eyes open, but remains unconscious of his actions. Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder, which although it surprises us, does not mean seriousness.


Sleepwalking, a type of parasomnia

Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder, specifically belongs to the group of parasomnias.

Parasomnias are sleep disturbances of a benign nature that encompass disparate variations. These are brief or partial episodes of awakening or action during sleep, without full wakefulness. They are very frequent in children and adolescents and in some cases they continue into adulthood. Among the best known are speech during sleep, sleepwalking, confusion upon awakening, etc. They are not serious or dangerous disorders, neither for health nor for behavior.

The sleepwalker acts as if he were awake

Sleepwalking manifests itself through simple and complex motor manifestations. The sleepwalker moves and acts as if he were awake. They get out of bed and move around the house, doing different activities, from drinking water, going to the bathroom, etc. in some cases they can get out of the house.


Characteristics of sleepwalking

1. Sleepwalking occurs during phases 3 or 4 of sleep. This is the REM sleep stage, it is a slow wave dream that takes place in the middle of the night.

2. During sleepwalking, the brain remains asleep, but the body acts. The mechanisms that are responsible for disconnecting and leaving the body at rest, have not been activated.

3. Awakening a sleepwalker is difficult, since he is deeply asleep. However contrary to what is commonly believed is not dangerous.

4. Normally the sleepwalker goes back to bed and he continues sleeping and the next day he does not remember anything.

Causes of sleepwalking

Currently, there is no clear consensus about the causes of this disorder, more research on the subject will be necessary to obtain more conclusive results. The specialists agree on a series of factors that predispose to the disorder, although none of them is decisive:


- Hereditary predisposition.
- Situations of stress and emotional tension.
- Consumption of alcohol or other substances that alter the central nervous system.
- Conflicts of the unresolved self.

Consequences of sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is a disorder that arouses curiosity and attracts attention. Socially there have always been many myths about this disorder, since it can resemble a serious disorder or a type of spell or possession. But sleepwalking is not a serious disorder that does not imply important consequences in itself. The greatest consequences are those caused by a wandering of which the person is not aware: blows, traumas, falls, etc. However, there is no more danger that is why we should not develop an atrocious fear that the sleepwalker will make inappropriate behaviors, since all they do is wander.

How to act with a sleepwalker at home

Having a sleepwalker at home can be cause for concern, and even fear, stress and anxiety. But knowing their characteristics and dismantling the false myths will help us to stay calm and not dramatize with a disorder that really is not anything serious.

Tips for acting with a sleepwalker at home:

1. Do not develop an atrocious fear, nor transmit it to the sleepwalker.
2. Pay attention to some basic precautions how to close the door and the window well.
3. Do not fear for what the sleepwalker can do, since they are limited to wandering and doing daily actions. That is, they will not pick up a knife and get injured, for example, or nail it to someone. It is important to know that the sleepwalker does not act from consciousness, his brain is asleep, but he has not gone mad.
4. Beware of objects that may pose an obstacle on the floor.
5. When a person is sleepwalkingHe is in a phase of deep sleep and therefore it is difficult to wake him up, but this does not pose any danger. It is true that he will wake up confused and confused, without knowing where he is or why he is standing, but this is not a danger for the sleepwalker.
6. They are usually sporadic episodes that remit with time. In case of being too serious it is advisable to consult with a specialist who can treat the cause that is behind.

What to do when the sleepwalker is a child?

Sleepwalking is very common among children and adolescents and usually remits in adulthood. As with adults we must take a series of measures:

1. Clear the rooms. Leave rooms, corridors ... free of obstacles that can be hit.

2. Close the entrance door and the windows well. Iasking them to open them, remove the key, put some security system.

4. Although waking them up is not a danger, they can be frightened and have difficulty falling asleep again. Therefore it is advisable to guide them back to bed.

5. Practice relaxation techniques Before sleeping, avoid stressful activities.

Celia Rodríguez Ruiz. Clinical health psychologist. Specialist in pedagogy and child and youth psychology. Director of Educa and Learn. Author of the collection Stimulate Reading and Writing Processes

Video: Sleepwalking 101


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