How is sleepwalking treated?

For children who sleepwalk more often, doctors may recommend a treatment called scheduled awakening. This treatment works as follows: for several nights, record the time between when your child falls asleep and the beginning of the sleepwalking event.

Then, for the next several nights in a row, rouse your child 15 minutes before the expected time of the sleepwalking event. You do not need to completely awaken the child -- simply disturb the sleep enough to cause a brief stirring. This momentarily interrupts the sleep cycle and may stop the sleepwalking in some cases.

Other ways to try to reduce your child’s sleepwalking include the following:

  • Have your child relax at bedtime by listening to soft music.
  • Establish regular nap and sleep schedules and stick with them. Naps are important in the younger child. This will eliminate sleep deprivation (a lack of sleep), a known trigger for sleepwalking.
  • Cut back on the amount of liquids your child drinks in the evening and make sure he or she goes to the bathroom before bedtime (a full bladder may contribute to sleepwalking).
  • Avoid caffeine near bedtime (caffeinated products include coffee, tea, colas, some non-cola pops, energy drinks, and chocolates).
  • Make sure your child's bedroom is quiet, calm, comfortable, cool (less than 75° F) and dark.

If stress is thought to be contributing to the problem, your child may benefit from counseling, hypnosis or biofeedback. On rare occasions, doctors may prescribe a medication to help your child sleep.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/22/2020.

References

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