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Solving Sleep Walking in Athens & Tyler

Sleep walking is typically a harmless sleep behavior common in children, much less common in adults. A sleep walking person may have their eyes open, but usually appear confused or dazed mumbling or giving inappropriate answers to questions. Occasionally, a sleepwalker may appear agitated. Sleepwalkers are often clumsy and may perform bizarre or strange actions, such as urinating in a closet. Sleep walking usually occurs within 1–2 hours after falling asleep. Episodes may last from 5 to 20 minutes. They typically have no memory of episodes. It is usually difficult to awaken them. Sleep walking can occur infrequently or every night.

Almost 40% of all children will sleepwalk at some time, with peak occurrence between 3 and 7 years. Sleep walking often runs in families and most children outgrow it by adolescence. Sleepwalking can also be associated with night terrors. There are certain triggers for sleep walking episodes, both in kids and some adults. These include:

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • Fever, illness
  • Some medications
  • Sleeping with a full bladder
  • Sleeping in a different environment
  • Noisy sleeping environment
  • Stress
  • Night-time seizures
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Periodic limb movements

How You Can Help a Sleepwalker

Keep them safe. Sleepwalkers can injure themselves or leave the house during an episode. Make sure that all outside doors and windows are secure. The sleep environment should be safe enough to avoid accidental injury. Floors should not be cluttered, objects should not be left on the stairs and hallways should be lit. Tying bells to their bedroom door can alert family members to the sleep walking incident.

Gently guide the sleepwalker back to bed while speaking to them in a calm and soothing manner. Don’t wake or shake them. Generally, nothing is gained by trying to wake a sleepwalker, and it may even make them more agitated.

Ensure enough sleep. Increase the amount of sleep that one is getting and try to not let them become sleep deprived. Sleep walking is much more likely to happen when one does not get enough sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep walking is more likely to happen on nights when a person goes to sleep at a different time than usual.

Additional treatment: In most cases, sleep walking requires no treatment. However, in cases in which a person is at risk for harm or sleep walking is occurring frequently, treatment may be necessary. Treatment may include medication or behavior modification techniques. Be sure to speak to your pediatrician or Dr. Cates if you are concerned.

When you need care for nighttime movement disorders, call Ronald Cates, MD, at 903.675.1717. Or use our convenient Request an Appointment form.

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