HOW TO DEAL, PREVENT AND CARE FOR A SLEEPWALKER
While waking up a sleepwalking child is not harmful, it makes the child confused, scared, or even cranky. So what do you do when you find the child sleepwalking?
- Don’t panic.
- Gently guide the child back to bed and stay until they are safely asleep.
- Use reassuring or comforting words such as, “You’re safe. You are going back to bed and sleeping comfortably” in a soft voice.
- Do not scream or speak in a loud voice, as that might startle and frighten the child.
- Do not try to restrain the child physically by holding them as that might scare them and turn them violent in self-defense (especially if they are also having night terrors).
You may not always be up and about to protect your child when he or she sleepwalks. So here are a few ways you can keep a sleepwalker safe.
- Remove any sharp or breakable objects from the child’s room.
- Remove anything that results in tripping and falling.
- Put a child door in the room or dangerous places such as the staircase
- Lock the windows in the child’s room. Also, lock the door if you are sleeping in the same room.
- Most importantly, do not put the child in a bunk bed as more often than not, a sleepwalker does not see what is in front of him or her and can fall off a bunk bed.
How To Prevent Sleepwalking In Kids
Another way to keep children safe from the possible dangers of sleepwalking is to develop a good sleep hygiene. Here are a few tips for that.
- Set a bedtime and ensure that the child is in bed by then, whether it is a weekday, weekends, or vacation time.
- Create a relaxing night time or bedtime routine that involves a warm bath, reading, or listening to relaxing music.
- Create a soothing and comfortable environment for the child to sleep in. Keep the room dark, with a nightlight if needed, and remove any noisy clocks from the room.
- Ensure that the temperature in the child’s room is just right, not too hot or too cold.
- Limit the amount of water or other liquids the child consumes before bedtime. Also, ensure that the child empties his bladder before going to bed.
- Do not give the child any sugary or caffeinated foods and drinks.
Some sleep specialists may suggest trying anticipatory awakening, which is waking up the child at least 15-20 minutes before the time the event usually occurs every day. Set up an alarm to wake the child.
You can also try meditation, mental imagery, and other stress relieving activities to prevent sleepwalking episodes. If anything in particular triggers the sleepwalking episodes, try to prevent or avoid them. Talk to your child’s sleep specialist if you have any more concerns or doubts.
Home Care Tips For Sleepwalking
A few lifestyle changes can help you prevent or minimize the chances of sleepwalking in children.
- Good nutrition helps in maintaining a healthy weight and body, which contributes to healthy sleeping patterns. If the child is obese or overweight, he or she may have difficulty sleeping.
- A tired person often “sleeps like a log”. Regular exercise is a good way to work the body and get a good night’s sleep, and maybe even prevent sleepwalking. Walking, jogging, cycling, or working out for a few minutes or an hour every day can help.
- Allow the children to get adequate sleep. This can help minimize the sleepwalking episodes. Make a note of their behavior when they don’t sleep well. Are they stressed? Are they sleepy or moody?
- Avoid auditory or visual stimulants that can trigger night terrors and with it, sleepwalking.
- Cut down on the afternoon or evening naps.
- Use of essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, myrrh, and sage in the bath can also help the child sleep better.
It’s Not Funny!
Watching a child walk in sleep and do silly things or blabbering something innocently while asleep does have a comic touch to it. But it is not funny! Ask the parent of a sleepwalking child, and they’ll tell you how difficult it is for them. Sleepwalking in itself is not dangerous, but it can send a child onto danger’s path.
Sleepwalking in children may not be a serious illness, but it must be taken seriously. If you see the signs, seek help from a professional; it will do you lots of good.