Keeping a Sleepwalker Safe
About 15 percent of children sleepwalk. We tell you how to keep your child from hurting herself during her nighttime wanderings.
Q: The other night, I found my daughter sleepwalking in the house at 2 a.m. Do I need to be concerned about this?
A: Sleepwalking occurs in about 15% of children, and it usually stops happening during adolescence, according to Barton D. Schmitt, M.D., Denver-based author of Your Child's Health. Of course, your first priority is her safety. Sleepwalkers may fall down stairs, trip on toys, or even meander outdoors. Be sure to put gates on your stairways, keep toys tucked away, and put locks on your outside doors so she'll be restricted to wandering indoors. Don't let your sleepwalker use the top level of a bunk bed, either. Finally, make sure she is getting plenty of sleep. "Fatigue can lead to more frequent episodes of sleepwalking," Dr. Schmitt says.
When sleepwalking does occur, simply lead your daughter back to her bed; chances are, she probably won't awaken, and she won't recall the incident the next morning. However, if sleepwalking occurs several times a week, or if your daughter seems agitated when she does it, call your pediatrician. There is a possibility that she has an underlying medical or psychological problem.
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