While You Were Sleep(Walk)ing

I hear the kid’s bedroom door open, so my eyes open as well.

I look at the clock, 

it is 2 a.m. 

I hear little footsteps go down the stairs as I stare at the ceiling. 

Next thing I know I hear the fridge door open. 

I get out of bed and head downstairs to see what is going on. 

There she was.

My four-year-old, back to the opened fridge pulling down her pants to go potty. 

I rushed to her, grabbed her arm “no, no, no. This isn’t the bathroom,” guiding her to the bathroom. She sat on the toilet and finished. I tried to talk to her but she just seemed out of it the whole time. She mumbled nonsense when talking back to me, her eyes were glassy and dazed, and she stumbled right past me as if I was not there. The next day, I mentioned the situation to my daughter, and she had no idea what I was talking about. It was weird.After another occurrence like this, it dawned on me, my daughter is a sleepwalker. Naturally, questions swirled in my head. Should I wake her up? Why is she sleepwalking? Will it ever stop?

figure of a man whith sleeping cap on sleepwalking on the roof.
Sleepwalking usually occurs in children between the ages of 3-7. Luckily it will eventually go away in time.

What Is Sleepwalking & What Causes It?

Did you know that sleepwalking typically occurs in children ages three to seven? I did not, but it made me feel better reading that I am not alone in this. Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a behavioral disorder that happens during REM sleep. A sleepwalker remains in deep sleep, and can do things other than just walking. 

Behaviors range from sitting up in bed and looking around, leaving the house and wandering around, sleep talking, and peeing in closets, or in my case the kitchen floor, or dog food bowl. It may be hard to wake the person up, and they may seem dazed or may not respond when spoken to. It is a strange idea, but when sleepwalkers’ eyes are open, they do not see the same as when they’re awake. They think they are in different rooms of the house or a completely different place altogether. This would make complete sense of why my daughter confused the fridge door with the bathroom. Sleepwalking usually occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep and the duration fluctuates between a few seconds to half an hour.

Interestingly enough, sleepwalking occurs mostly in children than adults. So what causes it? Common triggers are:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep apnea
  • Illness or fever
  • Medications
  • Stress

    Caucasian little girl holding her hands over her ears while screaming.
    Stress is one of the reasons a person may be sleepwalking.

Do I Wake Her Up?

“Never wake up a person sleepwalking.” That is common advice, including what my daughter’s doctor said. However, this is a misconception, especially if the person is in harm’s way. The pediatrician told us to simply guide our daughter to the bathroom and back, which you can imagine just means my concern ruins my own sleep. If you do not have to wake up your kid, then don’t because it might scare them. Unless as stated, they are about to fall down the stairs or get hurt.

Will It Go Away?

While there is no treatment for sleepwalking, rest assured that it will eventually go away. Adults can try hypnosis to cure sleepwalking, or medications. As for children, they will outgrow the behavior over time, so I can get a full night’s rest again! 

Sleepwalking is normal among children (this put my mind at ease.), and will eventually stop over time. In the meantime, try to guide your affected loved one, and make the house as safe as possible for them so they do not get hurt by obstacles. It blew my mind the first occurrence, especially since she was so disoriented and did not remember what had happened the night before. Researching this topic was a must, and knowing that she will eventually outgrow it made me happy, and hopeful. I was worried that something was wrong with her psychologically, or was stressed out about something that needed attention. But it turns out she is just a normal kid doing something that is common amongst children her age. I do not mind waking up and guiding her, as long as she’s safe (and does not pee on my floor) then I am okay with it. Plus, one day she will not sleepwalk anymore. Fingers crossed my son doesn’t begin sleepwalking too!

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