Sleepwalking can begin between the ages of 4 and 6 years, with a higher incidence in boys than girls.
Fatigue, stress, anxiety, fever, and routine changes often cause sleep disturbances. Among them, “sleepwalking” is one of the most frequent sleep disorders. Sleepwalking can begin between the ages of 4 and 6 years, with a higher incidence in boys than girls. With a few exceptions, sleepwalking usually goes away by adolescence.
Sleepwalking children aren’t walking like zombies with outstretched arms as people often believe. Instead, the child frequently walks, sits, gets dressed, talks, opens drawers, and even leaves the house while still sleeping. The child’s eyes will remain open but will be disconnected and staring into space.
Some scientists associate sleepwalking with immaturity of the central nervous system, but that has not been proven. What is clear is that sleepwalking is not associated with mental or emotional problems. The only danger is that you may have an accident while walking.
Causes of sleepwalking
Usually, during sleepwalking, children unconsciously imitate what they did during the day. Some common behaviors are picking up a bag to go to school or opening the refrigerator door to get a glass of milk. After performing these actions, you can go back to bed or continue sleeping elsewhere.
When does sleepwalking occur and how long does it last?
Like so-called nightmares, sleepwalking occurs in stage 4 of non-REM sleep. This is the deepest phase of sleep when brain activity slows and muscle movement decreases. That’s why people’s faces look numb and their eyes don’t process sensory emotions.
These episodes can last a few seconds or up to 30 or 60 minutes. During sleepwalking, children will behave like robots. They will mumble, and the only command they can respond to is probably to return to their room. The strangest thing is that when you wake up, you don’t remember this nocturnal adventure.
When considering the causes of sleepwalking in children, doctors often talk about factors such as lack of sleep and fatigue. They also mention familial inheritance, clinical conditions such as seizures, and stimuli such as caffeine.
Sleepwalking is when our body is active but our brain is asleep, Thanks to this, humans perform certain body movements without brain intervention. However, there are no specific diagnostic studies available for this issue. A sleepwalker’s behavior is fully indicative of its existence.
“Sleepwalking episodes tend to unconsciously mimic actions performed during the day.”
Ideal sleepwalking treatment
Infant sleepwalking usually has no negative consequences and usually goes away with time. However, we should always strive to improve the lifespan of children to ensure healthy rest. In addition, safety measures should be in place to prevent falls and other accidents during sleepwalking.
If the child has reached adolescence and the problem still persists, then he or she may need to see a specialist who can suggest a treatment based on research into early awakening insomnia, exercise, or pharmacological treatment. Remember that factors such as smoking and alcoholism can trigger this problem.
How to deal with sleepwalking in children
The main thing experts recommend is not to wake your child up during the first 5 to 15 minutes of this episode. Doing so can trigger panic or anxiety attacks. Ideally, take the child to the room carefully so as not to injure him.
Here are some precautions you should take:
- Remove furniture and obstacles to prevent children from tripping over or bumping into them.
- Close windows and doors. If possible, put the key in an out-of-the-box location so that your child cannot find it.
- Do not administer medication unless advised by a healthcare professional. Sleepwalking in children is not a disease and should be considered.
- Instill good sleep and rest habits. Help your child perform breathing and relaxation techniques, especially before bedtime.
- Avoid foods that make you sleepy.
- Talk to your child about your condition so that they don’t get scared and they can control their behavior as they grow up.
Sleepwalking in children is very common, but not dangerous. It tends to happen occasionally and most children overcome this problem with a little help.
If sleepwalking becomes normal, one way is to record the amount of time your child usually behaves that way and wake him up 15 minutes earlier. In this way, we can interrupt the child’s sleep cycle. With the hope of adopting something else without sleepwalking. The key to all of this is, above all, to remain calm.