Sleepwalking is a type of sleep disorder. A person who is sleepwalking may walk around or do other complex behaviors while still asleep. It may be as simple as sitting up in bed or as complex as leaving the house and going for a drive.
It is not clear exactly what causes sleepwalking. Some people are more likely to sleepwalk. The sleepwalking may be triggered by:
Factors that may increase your risk of sleepwalking include:
- Family history of sleepwalking
- Being a child—most common in preschool to pre-adolescence
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Along with walking during sleep, other symptoms can include:
- Sitting up in bed and repeating certain movements such as rubbing eyes or fumbling with clothes
- Talking in your sleep
- Difficulty arousing during a sleepwalking episode
- Doing inappropriate behavior during a sleepwalking episode such as urinating in closets
- Becoming violent when a person tries to wake you
- Not remembering the event
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked about your:
- Family history
- Underlying illness or stress
You may be referred to a sleep specialist. You may need to have a
done in a medical clinic.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Strategies to Prevent Injury
You will need to take steps to prevent injury during sleepwalking:
- Remove dangerous objects from your room.
- Keep doors and windows closed and locked.
Some cases of sleepwalking can be treated with
You will be asked to keep track of what time of night the sleepwalking tends to occur. You then schedule a wake up just before that time. This may help stop the sleepwalking.
Medications that may help reduce sleepwalking include:
To help reduce the chances of sleepwalking, take the following steps:
- Increase the amount of time scheduled for sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and certain medications that may trigger sleepwalking.
- Have a regular bedtime routine.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Sleep Foundation
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
The Better Sleep Council Canada
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Guilleminault C, Palombini L, et al. Sleepwalking and sleep terrors in prepubertal children: what triggers them?.
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Sleepwalking. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115035/Sleepwalking. Updated May 13, 2014. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Sleepwalking. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/sleepwalking.html. Updated April 2014. Accessed June 21, 2016.
Sleepwalking. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at:
Accessed June 21, 2016.