Sleep is a vital physiological need that allows the body to recover and recharge lost energy during the day. That being the case, many parents are concerned when they have a sleepwalking child. So there are many questions about it: can I do anything to help you, is it a serious disorder, is your rest affected? Learn what to do in these cases.
What is sleepwalking
The first thing you should know is that sleepwalking is an affectation that usually occurs in the first few hours of sleep; specifically in the phase that is known as deep sleep. However, sometimes it can occur in lighter states. Meanwhile, an episode can last on average 10 minutes.
In this period, some of the symptoms are that the child may sit in bed, get up, go to the bathroom, walk, murmur, or chat, even if he or she is stunned. One of the causes that this can generate is child stress. However, Alonso Tena, a specialist in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, says that children and adolescents suffer from this disorder more frequently, because their sleep cycles have not matured.
Is it a serious disorder?
Tena details that sleepwalking affects 17 babies, children, and adolescents. But it rules out that this is a dangerous or degenerative disease. In fact, kids usually remember little or nothing of what happened, so you have nothing to worry about.
Sometimes they can get a scare when they stumble upon an object, because contrary to what is believed, sleepwalking children don’t walk like robots. Although their movements are usually slow, they can move freely.
So, for its safety – and that of your favorite ornaments) – you just need to make some forecasts. However, in some exceptions, the little ones may have violent episodes. However, if these become recurrent, cause fatigue during the day, or impact your performance, you should consult with your pediatrician.
What to do when you have a sleepwalking child
Sleeping well has multiple benefits for the physical and mental health of the little ones. A good rest strengthens the immune system and helps them stay healthy. For this reason, it is important that children have a good habit of sleeping. So to help your child fall asleep better, in treatment, you can apply some techniques that allow him or her to relax:
- Keep a regular schedule.
- Turn off the lights in the room.
- Place relaxing music.
- Prevent him from using his or her cell phone or tablet before going to bed.
It is also important that they adapt to the spaces of the home to avoid accidents:
- Remove obstacles from rooms and hallways that you may stumble.
- Close windows and main doors.
- Place security grilles on the stairs.
If the child wakes up in the middle of the episode, you must remain calm, speak gently, and accompany him back to bed. This will also allow you to fall asleep.
What to avoid in sleepwalking in children
It’s reasonable to be concerned about the situation. The following tips will help you be much calmer when dealing with your child’s different sleepwalking episodes.
- Avoid developing excessive fear of this disorder. Inadvertently, you could pass it on to your child and make him care about what’s going on.
- Your child doesn’t have to realize you’re securing the home because of his or her disorder. This will cause you to stress before bed.
- Don’t be afraid of what your child can do during their episodes. Remember that your actions are only limited to everyday activities, such as going for a glass with water, going to the bathroom, sitting on the sofa. You don’t have to worry about me doing something I wouldn’t do awake, like self-harming or attacking someone.
- Avoid shaking or yelling at him to wake him up, you could upset him and affect his nervous system.
The most important thing when you have a sleepwalking child is to be patient because these alterations will disappear during your child’s development. However, remember that the manifestations can vary between children and each experience is different.
— For this reason, you should approach a specialist to get the guidance needed to deal with this process. —
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