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It's late at night; you're relaxing on your favourite chair when you hear foot steps - no, it's not an intruder, but a little wandering child, deep asleep, padding round the house! It can be very alarming to see, especially if it's never happened before, but sleep walking is actually common and nothing to be too concerned about.
Sleepwalking is also known as somnambulism and can take many forms:
- sitting up in bed
- wandering around the bedroom
- descending the stairs
- urinating in the corner of the room
- opening doors and cupboards
However, no matter the form it takes, one thing is certain, they won't remember it!
Sleeping is a complex activity and each night we go through various stages to reach deep sleep where REM (Rapid Eye Movement) takes place. In the later stages of sleep, it is more difficult to wake someone and this is the stage at which sleep walking often occurs.
There are various causes for sleepwalking:
- hereditary - if you did it or your partner, then there is a good chance that your children will too!
- lack of sleep
Is it dangerous?
It is not dangerous in itself, but the sleepwalker may cause harm by falling or tripping. Keep walkways clear and stairs free of debris. Keep cupboards closed and a low light on during the night. Sleepwalkers can see around them, although their recognition of surroundings is different to how we see when we are awake.
- Don't wake them - this may startle them and make them scared. Just take them back to bed and settle them back to resting.
- Don't let sleep walking children sleep in the top of a bunk bed.
- Keep doors to outside locked at night and windows shut and locked.
- Keep the area around your child's bed clear.