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Sleepwalking Child? How To Keep Them Safe
It can be disturbing to wake up in the middle of the night and see your child walking around while he or she is still asleep, but luckily, sleepwalking is a very common childhood behaviour. According to the National Academy for Childhood Sleep Disorders, close to 18 percent of children are prone to sleepwalking,
Sleepwalking, which includes a variety of behaviours like sitting up, talking and opening doors in addition to walking, often occurs in children during the deepest stage of sleep, known as stage three. Sleepwalking happens within an hour or two of your child falling asleep and can last from a few seconds to 30 minutes. Sleepwalking is often caused by fatigue, irregular sleep schedules, illness, stress or medications. Most children outgrow sleepwalking, and if you were a sleepwalker growing up, odds are greater than your own child will experience it, too.
Sleepwalking itself is harmless, but the activities children do while sleepwalking can be harmful. Here are a few tips to keep your child safe while he or she is experiencing sleepwalking and how to guide them through the behaviors safely.
Lock the doors – Because children often do normal activities while they sleepwalk, including opening doors, it’s best to keep doors locked and dead bolted so it’s less likely he or she will open the door and walk out.
Remove sharp objects – Keep your home safe from sharp objects, including sharp corners around your child’s bed, breakable items, knives, razor or sharp utensils. Dangerous objects, including chemicals and cleaners, should be far out of reach or placed in drawers or cabinets with child protective locks.
Child gates – if your child is very young, consider placing child safety gates outside his or her room or in a location that will block off a portion of your home. Another option is placing a safety gate at the top of a stairwell to prevent accidental falls.
Eliminate clutter – Remember, a child who sleepwalks can’t see clutter or other obstacles while he or she is experiencing the sleepwalking phenomenon. Clean up play areas and bedrooms and keep large objects out of the traffic path of the child. Make bed sheets and comforters loose so your child can get out of bed easier and will be less likely to trip on bulky comforters.
Don’t wake a sleepwalking child – Because sleepwalking occurs during a very deep stage of sleep, waking a child can cause him or her to be groggy and confused. This is normal behaviour, but should be prevented because it can lead to the child becoming frightened. Instead, gently guide the child back to his or her bed.
Create good sleep habits – Sleepwalking can’t be prevented, but creating healthy sleep habits for your child can minimize it. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep by moving his or her bedtime earlier in the evening – your child should have the same bedtime and same wakeup time every day. Avoid caffeine or chocolate close to bedtime. Create a bedtime routine that includes soft music or books. Consider adding white noise to your child’s room, which can help your child relax and sleep more soundly.
About the Author: Brandon Travis likes to spend his free time swimming and training for his next triathlon. When he’s not working out he likes to review sites that have stop snoring aids like irollover.com.