Many kids outgrow sleepwalking, but that doesn’t make the experience any less unnerving for the parents. We worry that our kids will wander outside, fall downstairs, or trip over something.
Sleepwalking kids aren’t aware of what they are doing or where they are going. But don’t worry—you can take simple precautions that can keep them safe during those midnight ‘tours.’
Safety precautions for sleepwalkers
Attach a bell on the door or a motion detector on the hallway across his room. This will alert you if your child has gotten out of bed. If you are a deep sleeper you can put a safety gate on his bedroom doorway, which will stop him from leaving his room and getting hurt.
Avoid putting a child who sleepwalks in a high bed. Clear the bedroom floor of anything that he could trip over.
Install window guards, or metal grids that snap into the window, on the upper floor windows. These are actually important even if your child isn’t a sleepwalker! Also install sturdy locks on doors and windows, and make sure that you lock them before going to sleep. You can post a reminder to yourself so you don’t forget. Install safety gates on top of stairs.
Keep track of the time your child tends to get out of bed. You may be able to see a pattern. Then, about 15 minutes before this time, wake him up, bring him to the bathroom, give him a hug, and then tuck him back into bed. Disrupting the sleep pattern may help break the sleepwalking cycle.
Children also tend to sleepwalk if they are tired or have a heavy meal right before they sleep. Enforce an earlier bedtime, and decrease rigorous physical activity after 5 p.m. Children may also be stressed, perhaps from a lot of pressure at school, or a sudden change in family environment (like a big move). Teaching them relaxation rituals, or enrolling them in a sport, can give a healthy release to all of that tension.
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