Your 5 year old has been in bed and asleep since 8 p.m. At 10 p.m. you’re in the kitchen cleaning up and you see your child walk into the living room. You call out to him and he does not respond.
You then recall a similar event the night before when he wandered into your bedroom and urinated in your closet. You run over to him as he is about to “water the plants” and redirect him to the bathroom. You then lead him to his bedroom and he back is in bed, asleep.
What’s going on? Your child is sleepwalking.
Yes. Sleepwalking is common, particularly in pre-school to school-aged children. They can occur as often as every night and up to several times per night. They usually occur during the first part of the night.
Even though the child’s eyes may be open, they are asleep. They may seem confused and talk nonsense or appear agitated and scream during the episodes (sleep terrors). Sometimes they may do strange things such as urinate in random places or get dressed to go to school.
In the morning, the children do not remember anything about the event. Children often outgrow sleepwalking by the time they are teenagers.
Sleepwalking runs in families — a child whose parent or sibling sleepwalks is more likely to sleepwalk. Additional causes include:
It’s important to keep a consistent sleep schedule for your child and make sure he or she gets enough sleep. During a sleepwalking episode:
If there are other medical or safety concerns, a referral to a pediatric sleep specialist may be necessary for further evaluation and/or management