What is sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking (also called somnambulism) is a behavior in which your child appears to wake up during the night and walk or do other activities without any memory of having engaged in the activities.

Sleepwalking tends to occur within an hour or two of falling asleep and may last on average between 5 and 15 minutes.

What are the symptoms of sleepwalking?

The most obvious sign is getting out of bed and walking around. But sleepwalking actually can involve a range of other behaviors, including:

  • Sitting up in bed and repeating movements, such as rubbing eyes or tugging on pajamas
  • Looking dazed (sleepwalkers' eyes are open but they do not see the same way they do when they are fully awake)
  • Being clumsy
  • Not responding when spoken to
  • Being difficult to wake up
  • Sleep talking
  • Urinating in undesirable places

What are the causes of sleepwalking?

Causes of sleepwalking include:

  • Hereditary (i.e., the condition may run in families)
  • Lack of sleep or fatigue
  • Interrupted sleep or inefficient sleep (including from disorders like sleep apnea)
  • Illness or fever
  • Certain medications
  • Stress, anxiety
  • Going to bed with full bladder
  • Noisy sleep environment/different sleep environment

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/05/2014.

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