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Sleepwalking and children

Question:

Is sleepwalking normal for children?

Answer:

Sleepwalking is a disturbance in which someone gets up out of bed and walks without being aware of the event. It is most often triggered by poor sleep habits.

In children, sleepwalking starts between ages 6 and 12. It occurs more often in boys than girls. Children outgrow sleepwalking in most cases.

If you can, gently steer someone who is sleepwalking safely back to bed. Try to make the home safer by adding gates to stairways and other safety measures to prevent injury.

Trying to stick to a bedtime routine may help reduce the problem.

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References

Chokroverty S, Avidan AY. Sleep and its disorders. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 102.

Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Normal sleep and pediatric sleep disorders. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 15.

Owens JA. Sleep medicine. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 31.

Review Date 3/6/2019

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.