How to help sleepwalkers

30 March 2016

Dear Friend,

Our night time visitor has appeared twice now. He walks into the room with a confused look on his face and when I say: Hello, what's wrong? he answers, I need the toilet but then walks towards the utility off the kitchen. I lead him towards the toilet and quickly to avoid accidents.

I'm not sure if he wakes but we usually have a short cuddle and then I take him up to bed. I have to direct him as he is very sleepy. In the morning he doesn't remember. Apparently Hubby used to be a sleep walker so I thought I better find more information and see if there is anything we can do to try and stop it happening. I am concerned about him injuring himself.

Sleepwalking is when someone walks or carries out complex activities while not fully awake. 

Sleepwalking is common in children with 20% of children sleepwalking at least once. It usually happens when children are in a deep sleep within the first few hours of them falling asleep. 
That would explain why Little man has appeared at around 10 p.m.

What happens when a child sleepwalks

  • Sitting up in bed and looking around, briefly appearing confused.
  • Getting out of bed and walking about.
  • Getting dressed or eating. 
  • The child may appear agitated. 
  • The eyes are usually open, though the child will look straight through people and not recognise them. 
  • They may respond to you or say things that don't make sense.
  • Most sleepwalking episodes last less than 10 minutes, but can be longer. 
  • The child may wake up or they may return to bed and go to sleep. 
  • They won't normally have any memory of sleepwalking in the morning or have patchy memory. 
  • If woken while sleepwalking, the child may feel confused.
  • Make sure they are safe. 
  • Gently guide them back to bed by reassuring them. 
  • Sometimes, gently waking them after they have fully come out of the episode, will stop them sleep walking again during the same deep sleep cycle.
  • Don't shout or startle them

Why some people sleepwalk

There is no known cause of sleepwalking however, you are more likely to sleepwalk if you have a close family member who also sleep walked.

Sleepwalking triggers in children 

  • not getting enough sleep 
  • infection with a fever (especially in children) 
  • certain types of medication, such as some sedatives 
  • sudden noises or a touch, causing abrupt waking from deep sleep 
  • waking up suddenly from deep sleep because you need to go to the toilet


  • Make sure your child goes to bed at a similar time each night 
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet when they go to sleep 
  • Limit drinks before bedtime 
  • Make sure your child goes to the toilet before going to sleep 
  • Build in wind down time before bed, share a story 
  • If your child sleepwalks at the same time most nights, try gently waking them for a short time 15-30 minutes before they would normally sleepwalk  this may stop them sleepwalking by altering their normal sleep cycle

When to seek medical advice

Occasional sleepwalking episodes don't usually need medical attention. Sleepwalking is rarely a sign of anything serious and may get better with time.
You should see your GP if the sleepwalking episodes occur frequently.

The little man has had episodes of sleep walking when he has had a late or busy night, when we have not stuck to the usual routine of shower, story, toilet and bed. He appears to wake because he needs the toilet. Hubby and I have decided to stick to our routine, even when late, to try and keep a regular bedtime and to limit his drinking at night. I hope that will help, fingers crossed.

Do you have a sleepwalker? What are your useful tips?

I found my advice on the NHS website.

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