Sleepwalking – What Causes It And What Should You Do?

sleep walkingIt’s estimated that close to 30% of people sleepwalk at some point during their lives. It’s therefore quite likely either you or someone in your family has done so.

It’s one of the most well-known sleep disorders and is generally completely harmless. But it can still be worrying, especially for parents who find their children sleepwalking.

In this article I’ll look at the current medical thinking around sleepwalking and possible causes. And I’ll discuss measures that might help reduce the likelihood of it happening.

I’ll also answer two of the most common questions people ask about sleepwalking:

  • Is it dangerous to wake someone while they sleepwalk?
  • Can sleepwalkers remember what they did?

What happens during sleepwalking

Also known by the medical term Somnambulism, sleepwalking is a sleep disorder in the category called parasomnias. Other parasomnias include sleep talking and sleep paralysis, and they have in common strange behavior or experiences in your sleep.

Not everyone sleepwalks by simply walking slowly around the house; behavior can range from simply sitting up in bed to more mentally demanding activities like preparing food. And in some rare cases, even potentially dangerous activities like driving a car.

It’s also interesting that the common belief used to be that sleepwalking was automatic. However, research in 2013 found that many people thought there was a hidden rationale for their actions whilst sleepwalking, even if they were illogical.

How can you tell if someone is sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking occurs during the deep sleep stage of sleep – in the first third of the night usually. Although sleepwalkers might look awake because their eyes are open, they won’t be fully conscious and may have a blank expression.

They won’t make normal eye contact with you, and although if you talk to them they might say something back, when they wake up they may not remember what happened.

However, the research in 2013 suggests that many people, especially adults, will actually recall their sleepwalking experience.

Some sleepwalkers will eventually go back to bed as if nothing ever happened; others might wake up in another room and understandably be quite confused.

The length of time people sleepwalk can differ; it could be just for a few seconds, or up to half an hour or longer. Some studies suggest that episodes of around ten minutes are most common.

Also note that it can easily be confused with what’s called REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. This is another sleep disorder where a person literally acts out what’s going on in their dream.

How many people sleepwalk?

someone sleeping on books

It’s thought that children who sleepwalk regularly may be more tired during the day.

Unfortunately, there have been very few studies or surveys to find out exactly how many people sleepwalk. It’s clear though that sleepwalking in children is much more common than adults.

Moreover, it’s also known that it’s predominantly younger children who sleepwalk. The main age that it occurs is disputed; some studies found 4 to 8 is the main age bracket, but others 8 to 12.

What’s agreed though is that puberty is when most children will stop, with only a few continuing to experience this sleep disorder as teenagers and adults.

In May 2012 a study published in the neurology journal stated that 29.2% of 19,136 adults in a poll claimed to have experienced nocturnal wandering in their lives.

In that same survey just 3.6% said they had wandered in the night in the last year, once again showing that it seems more common when younger.

It was later clarified that not all of these will be sleepwalking incidents, for example some may be due to epilepsy, alcohol intoxication or dementia.

Nevertheless, the survey does still illustrate that a large number of people sleepwalk at some point in their lives.

Why does it happen?

As is often the case with sleep disorders, the exact causes of sleepwalking aren’t fully understood. One reasonable theory is similar to that which helps explain sleep talking.

When you sleep, you cycle through different sleep stages. When transitioning in and out of the deep sleep stages, it’s possible that part of your brain remains shut down while another wakes up temporarily – the part which is responsible for movement.

And so in that out-of-sync moment you’re both unconscious and moving at the same time. Again though, the finding of the Montreal study suggests that, in some people, there may be more of a conscious influence or motivation than previously believed.

Despite the lack of a clear cause, there are certain things which seem to make it more likely that you or your children will walk in your sleep. Let’s take a look at each in turn:

1) If it runs in the family

Sleepwalking is thought to have a strong genetic link. If one parent has a past history of it, even as a child, then it’s more likely that their children will also do so.

And if both parents have sleepwalked, then the chances are much higher that you will. The survey above found that 30.5% of nocturnal wanderers had a family history of sleepwalking.

2) Other medical conditions and sleep disorders

Sleepwalking is thought to be more common if you have certain medical conditions or other sleep disorders, such as:

 3) Anti-depressants, sleeping pills and other medication

The following medications are all thought to potentially increase the likelihood of sleepwalking:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) anti-depressants like Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro or Paxil.
  • Other mental health medication, for example Chlorpromazine or Lithium.
  • Some over the counter sleep aids containing the anti-histamine diphenhydramine.
  • Some prescription sleep aids, such as Zolpidem (Ambien).

4) Other factors

In addition to the above, there are a range of factors which crop up time and time again as possible causes of many sleep problems, including sleepwalking.

Most people who have researched other sleep disorders will recognize these usual suspects:

Indeed, research suggests that in predisposed people any underlying cause or situation that disrupts sleep can result in episodes of sleepwalking.

Can you wake up a sleepwalker?

sleepwalking man mowing the lawnTempted as you might be to wake up a sleepwalker, it’s not the best idea. What you can do is try to gently and quietly steer them in the direction of their bed.

If they resist, then let them go about their nocturnal business, as long as no harm will come of it, and simply keep an eye on them.

And this is the key point – reacting to their behavior and keeping a sleepwalker safe should be your priority.

This might mean keeping doors and windows locked, putting up a gate on the stairs, or keeping both children and adults away from knives, fires or electrical points.

You can wake someone up from sleepwalking if it’s absolutely necessary. But if you have to, do it gently and don’t startle them. You should then give them time to come round, as they will probably be disorientated and confused for a few minutes.

What can you do about it?

Treatment options

There’s no specific medication or treatment for sleepwalking. Sometimes doctors might prescribe a benzodiazepine like Clonazepam, or even anti-depressants, but only in the short-term. It’s also been found that hypnotherapy can be useful for some adults.

There are, however, things that might help and also advice for what you should do if you feel that you or your children’s sleepwalking is causing you concern.


Sleepwalking in children is very common, and they usually grow out of it. So if it’s only occasional, and doesn’t cause any real problems then the advice is usually to just put up with it, keep them safe and they will eventually stop as they grow older.


Sleepwalking in adults, particularly if it results in dangerous or unwanted behavior, may need a referral to a sleep specialist. They may recommend you have a sleep study carried out to check that you don’t have another sleep disorder like Apnea.

If any of the factors in the above section about the causes of sleepwalking apply to you then it could help to talk to a doctor. For example if you’re taking any of the medications listed, a doctor may consider changing them.

And then of course there’s the concept of following good sleep hygiene techniques. This can go a long way to help reduce factors such as stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation.

Some of the key sleep hygiene areas you could consider to reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking are:

  • Have a stable sleep routine – go to bed and get up at the same time each day
  • Don’t miss out on sleep
  • Sleep in the same bed each night, and make sure children have their own regular bed
  • Deal with any stress in your life as best possible
  • You can try to minimize your reaction to stress in your life with relaxation techniques
  • Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine late in the day

Your views

I’m interested to know what your experience is. Do you sleepwalk? Can you remember what you did? Have you noticed anything that seems to make it more or less likely to happen?

84 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’m not even 100% sure this happened but I’m being told that in the early hours of the morning, I went into my brothers room where his girlfriend was sleeping and was trying to put my hands on her.

    I don’t recall at all but she is 100% it was my. My concern is that I have obstructive sleep apnea and have been dealing with some stress in my life lately.

    Does this type of sleep walking happen? Maybe I was re-enacting a dream? because never in a million years would I do something like this in my conscious state. Please help, I’m so worried right now

    • Hi Dan
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your worry – it must have been upsetting for all of you. This kind of thing can happen, but fortunately isn’t very common. Hopefully it will be a one off, but you might like to mention it to your doctor or sleep specialist who helps you with the apnea.

  • I’m 14 and I sleep walk since I’m really young (not very often though) I usually get up and walk around my room and the hall way. I turn all the lights on and off and I stare down the stairway. When I wake up from this I’m usually really confused and I don’t know which lights to turn off or on to get back to bed.
    When I was really young my parents used to wake me up before they went to bed to let me use the bathroom and I usually talked gibberish to them and when they talked back because they were confused it felt like they were angry and being weird. I don’t know if that counts as sleep walking/talking.
    The worst times are when I’m on vacation and I’m in a different house than I’m used to, because I might disturb other peoples sleep or injure myself.
    Just last night I slept in the top bed of a bunkbed, but I dreamt that I was sitting on the bottom bed and I wanted to get off so I tried, but you obviously can’t because there is a little edge that keeps you from rolling off the bed. Long story short I sleep ninja’ed off the bed and fell a 2 meter drop onto hard tiles and I sprained both my ankles and my middle finger.

    I usually don’t sleep walk when I’m staying at a friends house, but I’m scared that I might sleeptalk, because I sometimes sleep talk(scream) someones name when I dream that I get locked up.
    It’s just really embarrassing when other people find out that I sleep walked, because I have no control over what I’m doing.

    • Hi Yrsa
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m very sorry to hear about your accident. I can understand why this must be stressful for you, and embarrassing as you say. I think considering your injury, and how much it’s upsetting you, the best thing would be to speak to your doctor about it with your family, if you haven’t already. It’s important that you have a professional talk through it with you and see if there’s anything they can do to help you.
      In the mean time, I recommend avoiding top bunks (I imagine you will anyway now!), making sure you get plenty of sleep and don’t stay up too late, and try to do something relaxing and calming before bed. Simple things like that on a regular basis can really help with sleep problems.

  • Well recently my mother was sleeping with me .Next day she told me that I was standing on my bed at the middle of the night.She told me that she shook me and after that I layed down on my bed automatically.when as told me I didn’t recall a single thing about it .I felt quite scared hearing.Is this normal??Or should I consult a doctor.

    • Hi Sid
      Many people do sleepwalk, and it’s quite normal for younger people to do so. So I wouldn’t be worried about it, unless it happens a lot and is disrupting your sleep, or you’re doing things that could be dangerous.

  • When I was young, I used to commonaly wake up ether beside the dinner table or under the dinner table in the middle of the night. I would wake up confused and run back to bed. I dont do sleepwalking anymore I think.

  • Recently I have been sleep walking. Last time I did this I pretty much remember heading to my kitchen to open the door so whoever I was dreaming about could carry something outside. I moved things around to make space . I also dream quite alot and have nightmare also. Not sure if that goes along with the sleep walking. This last episode scares me because I was opening my door. I’m not sure what might have happened next. Anything you could tell me would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Barbara
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you might be concerned, as many people are when they realize that they are doing things in their sleep they have no control of. But there’s not much I can tell you about this other than if it’s worrying you, bring it up with your doctor, and to try the advice in the article and this website about good sleep habits. It can sometimes help the frequency of bad dreams and sleep walking to try to keep healthy routines where sleep is concerned.

  • I sleepwalk nightly. My boyfriend apparently shoves me back down into the bed so I don’t get up but occasionally he’s not successful and I walk around the apartment. I wake up angry usually. If my boyfriend wakes me up then I find myself waking up in the middle of rationalizing why I’m walking around. It’s really not effecting my sleep very much as I don’t usually remember unless I get woken up. However, it makes my boyfriend sleep terribly. He wakes up whenever I start to get up which is numerous times a night.

    Not sure what my issue is. Maybe stress.. I’m a graduate student.. but I’ve always slept walked. My parents literally used to lock their bedroom door so I wouldn’t walk into it in the middle of the night. :( thoughts?

    • Hi Jordyn
      Thanks for your comment. If you think stress could be a cause, then it sounds like it might be. Perhaps try as best you can to reduce stress in your life, and do some calming activities before going to bed. If it’s disrupting your partner’s sleep so much, are you able to sleep in separate beds? That’s what many people do, including me!

  • I just read this article after waking up to a smell of burning food. I thought the people upstairs were cooking at 6 am, but as I got closer to the stairs, I didn’t smell it. I went into my kitchen and expected to see a burner that had been bumped on. Instead, I found the oven set to 395 degrees. Inside, was a cookie sheet with completely burnt french fries on it. The strange thing about it is that I vaguely remember doing it. In my mind, I was making dinner for my kids (one kid is away and the other was sleeping). I remember thinking that the big was really big so I should only make half. It was actually a standard size bag that I would normally have cooked the entire bag.

    I am very concerned about this because I could have burned down the house. I am a third shift worker, but I only started that about 5 months ago. I often have days that I get less than 4 hours of sleep. On Fridays, I go to a second job straight after the nighttime job, so I rarely sleep at all that day. I also have sleep apnea and I don’t wear my mask. I know, bad idea, but I throw it off in my sleep. Lastly, my father and brothers have been known to walk and talk in their sleep. For my brothers, it seems to be alcohol related usually. I do drink occasionally, but didn’t drink at all last night. I have sleep walked (I’m not sure what the past tense of this is??) a few times before, but it was in my younger days. However, I have always been an active sleep talker. I am interested to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you.

    • Hi Nichole
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand the feeling of doing something in your sleep but only having a vague recollection. Just 2 weeks ago I discovered I had unpublished several articles on this site one morning. I had a vague recollection of doing some work in the night, but couldn’t for the life of me work out when or why I’d decided to do something so counter-productive! It was a very unsettling feeling knowing that I’d done something that would have negative consequences.
      Of course, in your case the worry must be even greater, knowing that the consequences could have been dangerous, so I can appreciate your concern. I think it’s very possible your behavior is related to having a very disrupted sleep pattern and sleep deprivation. Perhaps this is a warning to have a think about how you can really focus on trying to get adequate sleep. Even if your very busy life means your sleep is restricted, it’s still worth trying to maximise the sleep. Have a read of my recent article with sleep tips for shift workers for some ideas.
      I think taking some steps to minimise the risk would also be beneficial, just in case you repeat it. Are you able to turn off the oven before going to bed, or lock the kitchen door and put the key somewhere else other than in the lock?
      Finally, I think speaking to your primary care doctor about this would be beneficial. When we a act out our dreams to such an extent it could be an indicator of a sleep disorder such as REM sleep behavior disorder, which might need treatment depending on the severity.

  • Recently i have experienced second time, i turned switch on the light & turn my fan at fast speed and arranged my laptop on its right place, at morning i saw changes around me and i don’t remember that it all by done me, i was quite sacred.

  • My son sleepwalks and in his episodes he seems to be scared or running away from something. Sometimes he’ll confuse me for whatever is scaring him and other times he includes me in his search and will tell me to be quiet and check around the corner. I try to redirect him back to bed and it’s a hit or miss. Other times if redirecting does not work, I ask him questions about something I know he likes in order to distract him and get him to relax and not be scared. He’s 9 and has been experiencing these since he was 3.5 or 4. Because I never know what triggers his adventures I’m not sure if he needs medical interventions. How can I determine this?

    • Hi Adrian
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing by trying to redirect him and be gentle with him rather than waking him up suddenly. As I said in the article, it’s hard to know what’s causing sleep walking in any particular case. But it’s still worth talking it over with his primary care doctor to see what they think. I can understand how you must be distressed if he sleep walks and mistakes you for something scary that he’s imagining. So perhaps it would be good for you too to talk it over with a profesional. In the meantime, try to ensure he has a good sleep pattern, and does something relaxing and calming before bed. Perhaps try talking to him about what might be upsetting him or making him anxious in his daily life, and helping him talk through it as well, in case that’s a trigger.

  • I have been a sleep walker since I was very young, but I did not grow out of it. I’m in college and to this day I still sleep walk and sleep talk regularly. I know if I’m anxious it will be worse, but it also happens when I’m relaxed. It hasn’t really caused me any problems other than some pretty non-restful nights. Should I have a sleep study done? Or is this okay?

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. It’s up to you really, though I’d recommend speaking to your primary care doctor about it to see what they think. As long as it’s not causing you any problems and you feel you get enough sleep in general, then it’s something many people learn to live with. Having said that, it’s a good idea to try as much self-help as possible, especially working on your anxiety in the long-term on a daily basis if you know you’re an anxious person and that it affects your sleep.

  • I do a lot when I’m asleep. I live on my own and have often woke up with fresh cuts and bruises showing. Friends have stayed over and they would say to me i woke them up with a fright cause they would hear something and wake up and I’m sitting up laughing but not saying anything. My mam woke up at 4Am before and went to the kitchen and I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea trying to have a smoke too 😓

  • I never knew that I sleep walked until my friend told me so..I’m at a boarding school..and people avoid me as they think im weird .what should I do?

    • Hi Thembie
      Thanks for your comment. Having been to boarding school myself, I can understand your worry! I think the thing to do is not allow them to make you feel bad for doing something that’s very common, not weird at all and even adults do. Don’t it become something they can get a reaction from you for talking about or teasing. Getting a reaction is one of the things that makes kids repeat mean behavior. I also recommend talking to your house master or teacher who runs the boarding house about it. Perhaps they can help you decide how to deal with it, and deal with being avoided at the moment. From my memory of boarding school, who gets avoided or not changes regularly at school, so I’m sure it will pass in time.
      And of course, actually dealing with the sleep walking would be good too. Do your parents know you do it? Have you spoken to them or your doctor about it? Perhaps that would be useful to do, and also speak about how you’re feeling at school. If it’s stressing you out, making you anxious and you’re not happy there, it’s important to talk about that.

  • last night i was asleep and i got up and came into sitting room and pulled open curtins this was 4 oclock in the morning.Never done this or anything like that before.Its frightening and scary i would like to know why it happened please let me know

    • Hi Mary
      Thanks for your comment. It’s kind of impossible to say exactly why it happened last night. The causes of sleep walking above are the ones to think about. Some people do suddenly experience sleep walking after a long period without doing it. It’s usually nothing to be concerned about. But if you do feel very distressed by it, mention it to your doctor when you see them.

  • I never knew that sleepwalking and talking were a disorder I used to walk into my parents room and stare at then while still asleep every night till my mom put me back into my room and i never knew till she told me I still talk in my sleep to this day still no idea why

  • I just slept walked. I believe for the first time. I’m 30 years old. I don’t remember what happened during, but I woke up in a totally different room but perfectly fine. I wasn’t drinking and I don’t do any type of drugs whatsoever. (Typically I don’t even take Tylenol) so needless to say when I woke up this morning I was afraid for what may or may not have happened. It’s got me worried truthfully.

  • My son (nearly 8) sleepwalks at my house, but never at his mom’s. It’s been few and far between until the last week; he had horrible, terrifying sleepwalking incidents last Tuesday and Wednesday nights, then was wirh his mom Thursday-Sunday evenings, and now sleepwalked here again tonight. The only thing that comes to mind is that, here, he’s on the top floor and I’m downstairs; at his mom’s, their rooms are side by side. Could it be a safety/security thing?

    • Hi John
      Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say, but one thing that’s known is that a change in environment can increase sleep disturbances in children. Have you tried speaking to him to ask how he feels about the house, and if there’s anything that would make it feel more comfortable for him?

  • Hello.
    I was wondering if it would be possible for someone to have sleep walked once in there life. My mum said when she was 11 she stood at the end of her parents bed for around 10 minutes but thought she was also possessed or so. I worry and stress very easily and wanted to find some sort of solution. She said she remembers her mum trying to ask her questions but she wouldn’t answer. She said she was completely quite and just standing there for 10 minutes. She said it never happened again but I thought that y there would have to be some sort of explanation. I sleep walked and talked when I was young but grew out of it as I grew up. I hope there’s some sort of explanation.

  • Hi I have a question!? So I’ve never sleepwalked befor and one day I was being accused for having a nife and running with it around the house and there were kids around but I don’t remember and they said that it was in the morning ?! Does this mean I may be sleepwalking?!

  • Hi there,
    I’m 21 years of age and I sleepwalk almost every night. My parents tell me that I sleep walk but I have no recognition of doing so. I wake up in the same spot I went to sleep in. just confused on why I do it so much !

  • I started sleepwalking and having nightmares a year ago. I have stress/anxiety in my life and my 3 year old son in my bed every night. I wake up every night and make coffee and cook at odd times like 2:30 am. Since I’m having nightmares all night that wake me up and then I sleepwalk just about every night that wakes me up, I am not getting enough sleep at night. I am a paralegal and my job is demanding and I need to be on top of my game at all times. I am getting so sleepy while at work and I don’t want this to effect my job. What do I do? I’m not on medicine. I exercise and eat good. What do I do so that the nightmares and sleep walking will stop? Should I see a sleep center? Should I go to the doctor? Please help me. Thank you!

    • Hi Stacy
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re having such sleep problems. I think visiting your doctor is the best first step. And have you thought about sleeping separately too? Sometimes sleeping alone can help people sleep better.

  • Hi,
    I have a question about sleepwalking. I never sleepewalked in my life but I have anxiety about sleepwalking. My fear is that i could be violent against people around me while sleepwalking. So, is it possible that people could kill while sleepwalking ? I know that there is the REM-sleep behavior disorder which could lead to violence but my question is about normal sleepwalking. I am not sure if someone could do complex tasks like killing someone. And is it true that sleepewalker do things they are afraid of doing it in real life ?

    • Hi John
      Thanks for your comment. Well, if you’ve never sleep walked in your life, I’d try to put the idea out of your mind. The concept of killing while sleep walking is kind of controversial, and very few cases have ever been argued successfully in court. And considering most sleep walking is of just normal activity like wondering around the house, eating or going to the toilet, I don’t think it’s true that sleep walkers do things they are afraid of when awake!

  • Hi
    I am 61 and during my life have experienced random peti mal seizures which may be months apart. Several years ago i felt strange while driving so I pulled over and stopped. An observer said I got out and started walking up the road strangely so an ambulance was called and I only recall the medical people asking me who I was otherwise blank. This morning my wife said do you know I went for a walk last night and for the first time ever urinated in the corner of our bedroom. I have also walked down to my sons room
    or just a stroll around the house. These events can be weeks, months apart with no recall of these events.
    On average I go to bed around 10pm and go through bouts of light sleep and waking around 2.30 – 3.30 am and struggle to go back to sleep so I’ll I get up at 5.30 – 6am
    I sometimes wakeup at the slightest noise outside then get fixated on this stopping me returning to sleep. I have decided to stop drinking tea before going to bed.
    I am on medication for Epilepsy.

    Thanks for your time. Paul

    • Hi Paul
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you’d be worried with these things happening – even if they are infrequent. Have you thought about keeping the house locked and the key where you’re not aware of at night, just to prevent any outside wandering?
      Stopping drinking tea at night is always a good idea, though it might not cure the sleepwalking! Have you spoken to your doctor about this? They can assess your situation, and think if anything else could be contributing to it.

  • i am 45yrs old never sleep walk my first time was at4am than5am next time was730 all in one day i was touching all beds arguing with my family kept telling to shut up sat on the side of tub for no reason and sat in the kitchen chair got up went to bed than at 730 got up went to the front door playing with the knob my daughter got me away than i sleep til 700pm the next night nothing

  • My Mother is a very active sleepwalker. I’m am 34 & live at home with her, due to my own medical issues. I spend the majority of most nights trying to follow her around and keep her from getting hurt, once again. She’s not like most normal sleepwalkers I’ve heard of, she is partially awake while walking usually, so she is very argumentative and WILL NOT go sit or lie down. She’s not like this while awake, we’re very close. She has driven once, she thinks while sleepwalking. She falls and stumbles frequently, drank olive oil once and a vase full of flower water from rotting flowers, she puts two outfits on at once, jerks constantly, etc. I could go on and on, easily a hundred or more unusual things. She basically acts like a drunk person, she seems awake and talks, etc. but is usually not aware what occurred the next day, sometimes talking fairly normally, sometimes mumbling. I try to get her to go to bed, she ALWAYS says, “In a minute.”, but never will and she gets crabby and claims she’s awake while falling, stumbling, and all kinds of things. Occasionally she knows she’s not completely awake and can admit she doesn’t know why she’s pouring water in salad, or whatever odd thing she’s doing and sometimes age gets startled.I am an insomniac, but I can’t follow her ALL the time. I don’t know what to do to help her, it keeps me as exhausted as her, anxious and worried, etc. I can only follow her around the house so much before I have to sleep. She is rambling around right now. She is 54 & normal while she’s awake. She has gone to doctors and done sleep testing, but she still does it as bad, sometimes she doesn’t do it for days, but she has been really constant & bad with it lately (no break for about 3 weeks now). She generally walks around ALL night, only getting off and on sleep for about 4 hours on a good night. She started about ten yrs ago, seemingly out of the blue. Sorry this is so rambling and lengthy, I’m just so worried and tired.

    • Hi Amanda
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern – it must be difficult for you losing so much sleep and trying to lead your life. What did the doctors advise when she was seen? Did they not recommend any form of treatment or self-help?
      I think it’s probably worth getting a second opinion if nothing has helped and it’s disrupting your lives so much. It’s also good to try as many self-help techniques as possible, especially paying attention to the sleep hygiene side of things.
      And in terms of you following her around the house at night, I’m not sure how helpful that is. As you say, you can’t follow her all night every night, so perhaps the best thing is to keep the house locked and safe so she can’t harm herself or others, and then try to sleep well yourself so you’re able to help both yourself and her as much as possible when needed.

  • I’m a teenager and lately my mom has been sleepwalking/talking really bad. I know it runs in the family because my brother and grandma both do it too. Last night, she came into my brothers room and started looking around. She ended up eating a bunch of stuff and left it in my bathroom. Tonight, she started running around and opening her closet and running in the halls in our upstairs. My room is right next to hers and she was knocking on my walls. It was really alarming and i knew she would try to get in to my room. I held the door closed. At first, she kept turning the knob (for like 5 minutes) i thought she left but she came back and started pushing too. I was majorly freaked and,my brother and i both decided to go outside,to take a breather. She woke up and came downstairs because she heard us. She only remembered a dream about searching for something. This entire episode of running and searching started at like 1:15 and ended around 1:50. it was really scary and i can’t sleep because she keeps trying to get in here. She already uses essential oils and stuff (but admitted to forgetting the last couple nights).
    What,should i do?

    • Hi Emily
      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear you’re having to deal with this worry. I think the first step is to communicate with her openly about how you feel about this, and your concern at night – if you haven’t already. Perhaps you can get a simple lock on your bedroom door rather than have to stand there holding it shut? I’d also suggest that your mum speaks to her doctor about it to see if they can help. Again, if you tell her how much it upsets you, that might inspire her to seek help.
      I think it’s also important to remember that sleep walkers don’t tend to hurt people in their sleep. She might enter your room and behave bizarrely for a while, but I think it’s good to remember that she’s not going to hurt you. You might even be able to help guide her back to bed by softly talking to her and gently moving her back in the direction of her bedroom. I’m not sure how old you are, or how comfortable you feel facing her if it’s unsettling for you, but it’s something to think about.

  • Hi. My name is Mike. I am an adult who still lives at home. I sleepwalk once or twice a week. If noone bothers me i will shuffle around the house for 5 or 10 minuits then go back to bed and only have vauge memories of it when i wake up. Usually though, my mother or father will catch me sleepwalking and wake me up, which is a disturbing shock to me and causes me to start yelling and screaming at them in a very irrate way. I am usually not an angry person and i am very embarrased and ashamed at how angry i become when this happens. They are going to kick me out of their house if i dont stop yelling at them when they wake me up like this. What can i do to stop this from happening?

    • Hi Mike
      Thanks for your comment. I think it’s more likely you can stop them waking you up than stopping the sleepwalking completely. Perhaps encourage them to read this, or any other good article, about waking sleep walkers up. Ask them to either guide you back to bed gently, without trying to wake you up, or even just let you be if it’s only a short episode and you don’t harm yourself or any others.
      And of course, you can try to follow the self-help advice about sleep walking as diligently as possible. And if it becomes a problem that’s interfering with your daily life or well being, speak to your doctor.

  • I’m not a sleep walker but my boyfriend is. He works on a boat and is gone most of the time but he sleep walks when he is home. He has done it on the boat also, and has apparently slept walked his whole life. But, the few times he has done it with me….he has woken up and pulled me out of bed with him. He isn’t agressive where he hurts me but he is very strong and holds my half asleep self up completely like he is wide awake. Both times he is panicky and is trying to “get me out” like he is trying to save both of us. I panic being woken up outback of a dead sleep and begin trying to speak to him and get him to wake up. The first time he didn’t. We walked around the room and he tried to open the door and get us out….then I began resisting and we walked back to the bed and went back to sleep. The second time was more dramatic and it was hard to wake him up. I did though and he remembered what he was dreaming about. We are worried he could hurt us both accidentally. He hasn’t slept walked any without dragging me with him. Is there any accounts where the sleep walker takes their partner with them?

    • Hi Amy
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your worry – it must be distressing to deal with this in the night. It sounds like you might benefit from reading an article about a sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior disorder. In this sleep disorder, people act out their dreams while still asleep, which is different from sleep walking. Have a read and see if it seems like what he does. If so, it might be good to mention the idea to his doctor and get their opinion.

  • Many thanks for your inputs.
    I would lile to share my experience last night. .im staying in a hotel for 2 days. .I was asleep last night when I jumped to the phone and dialed the recption number, I talked to the lady and asked her to check if my mum was there so I can send her the laptop to charge it so I can use it later. the lady didnt understand what I was saying and asked for more détails . I was pronouncing her my mum’s name which she never found, then pronounced the last name which she also never found, she asked which floor was my mum in and I said ground.. then all of the sudden I realised that I was asleep as my mum is back home in Tunisia and im in Seattle Washington. .
    I am still chocked and can’t hold my laugh eveytime I remember the conversation. . but Im also anxious about this..
    could it be dangerous
    what would u advise.
    many thanks in advance

    • Hi Sara
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think you need to worry about any danger based on what you’ve said. If you sleepwalk and do things which could be harmful, that would be a different story. But I don’t think that’s the case for you.

  • I am 50 year old woman. I sleepwalk and talk a lot! I did as a child too! I have fallen down steps and busted a window out. I have tried to go to the bathroom once and busted out a window and luckily didn’t get a cut! I do this so much. I have woken up on the camode and on the bathroom floor and in another room. sometimes I do this after drinking but not always. what can I do?

    • I have also woke up and had a toenail cut off because I apparently tripped on something sharp and also had cuts on my legs from something. I scare myself. my other half tells me what I do and say and sometimes I argue with him like I’m awake and aware of what he is saying to me.

      • Hi Malissia
        Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern – it must be very upsetting to wake up with injuries on your body. Other than following the advice in the article, and trying to work hard on your sleep routine and good sleep hygiene – such as not drinking in the evening for example – I would speak to your doctor about this. I think when there’s a risk of serious injury, it’s time to get a professional opinion and hopefully some help from them. Whether they suggest medication, a referral to a sleep specialist or also offer self-help advice I don’t know. But it’s worth finding out.

  • I am a 30 year old male; married with a baby on the way; we have a dog that sleeps in her own bed in our room. I have a long history of talking in my sleep periodically since I was a kid. Doesn’t happen often (maybe 5-6 times a year from what I can tell). But I was even do things like sit up in bed and tell my wife that there is something or someone sitting on the top of the dresser (that happened once).

    A couple of nights ago, I slept walk for what I believe to be the first time from what I recall. I went to our TV in the bedroom, took it off the stand and put it on the floor somehow (very heavy). My wife finally woke up to a loud “BANG”, when I believe the TV stand feel to the floor (I was holding it as if I were trying to look behind it).

    This event really scared me. I went back to bed after she cleaned up everything, but I cut my finger and bruised up my knee pretty good. Should I be concerned about an isolated incident? Does this constitute needing to talk to a doctor? The strange thing is, I have been getting fairly regular sleep and I have very little stress at work right now. Maybe a tad bit anxious about my wife having our first baby, but I haven’t really been dwelling on it or worrying about it yet (she is due the beginning of June!).

    Any advice? Thank you for your time and patience reading this!

    • Hi Jordan
      Thanks for your comment. I think the best thing is to so what feels right for you. If you think it would give you peace of mind to speak to your doctor, and mention you’re worried about the risk of injury to you or your family, that’s totally understandable. And if you prefer to see if it happens again before ringing alarm bells, that’s also probably a reasonable cause of action.

  • My name is Carol, for the past 4 months my 15 year old daughter been waking up in the middle of the night telling me she missed her bus, she gets ready like if she is going to school and I get scared one day she would walk out the door at 3am

    • Hi Noemy
      Thanks for your comment. Is she still asleep when doing this, as in sleepwalking, or do you think she is waking up and acting in a confused way? This kind of thing does happen to other people, such as is the case with what’s called confusional arousals for example. Have a look at that article and the comments too and you might find something that helps. And perhaps you could consider locking the doors at night so she can’t easily walk out of the house.

  • It just started happening I am ten years old I don’t remember anything I did but I just remember that I woke up in the living room but I was in my moms!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Kyky
      Thanks for your comment. I think the main thing is not to panic or stress about it. It’s very common and happens to lots of people your age. The best thing is to talk to your family about it, and how you feel about it. They can then help you deal with it if it becomes an on-going issue.

  • My husband has always talked/moved etc while asleep. But the last couple of nights he has been a little more aggressive. First he started to almost yell at me and I couldn’t understand what he was saying but he started snoring right away. And last night he woke me up when he started pulling my hair! What can I do!? Please help me!!

    • Hi Debbie
      Thanks for your comment. That must have been very disturbing! I think perhaps speaking to his doctor is a good idea – they might be able to offer some advice. In the meantime, try to follow the suggestions in the article to see if he can settle with some stability in the sleep pattern and relaxation at night.

  • I have recently started wearing earplugs at night while I sleep and I’ve noticed that I’ve started sleep walking with them. First I woke up and found myself chewing on my ear plug and then another night, I woke up and took one of the ear plugs and was convinced it was a gem stone that had to be protected. I recall placing the ear plug on a counter top in my bedroom, only to later get up again and move this downstairs to “safety”. I woke up vaguely remembering this and find my behaviour extremely odd – I was asleep and only in a semi-state of consciousness. I should point out that I do not drink or do drugs, and am a healthy adult. Have you done any research into the effects of ear plugs and sleepwalking? Aside from when I’ve had ear plugs in, I have never been a sleep walker before. Thanks for you help!

    • Hi Sybil
      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t heard of a connection between earplugs and sleep walking. I use earplugs almost every night, and haven’t sleep walked for many years, so from personal experience I’m at least one person who doesn’t do it!
      To be honest, I can’t see of any reason why it would happen, off the top of my head, other than the fact that they are somehow disrupting your sleep. Perhaps your brain knows something is different, and it’s stopping you from sleeping completely normally.
      If it only happens when you wear them, I guess just not wearing them is the answer. And if you need them to help block noise, perhaps you might like to read the article I wrote about blocking noise at night.

      • I’m a college student and Friday night I drank some beer got intoxicated and apperently peed on my resident directors door, I do not recall this action but at the same time I wasn’t black out drunk, I do remeber all of a sudden it was as if I was awake and my nervous system had a heart attack when my RESIDEDENCE DIRECTOR opened the door and asked me what the F I’m doing, in the moment it felt as if I woke up from a dream but it was real, I am very disturbed and confused, I’m worried it might happen again and I have only slept walked once when I was a child it doesn’t run in my family please need advice help, anything

        • Hi Joe
          Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it might be that this is just a risk you have to face when you drink too much. Some people do things like this when intoxicated, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sleep disorder. So as much fun as it may be, the best solution might be to make sure you don’t get into that state again!

  • Hi, I’d like to go by the name of Dill.
    I have been determined that I have been sleep walking/sleep talking since I was a child.
    people seem to try and hide the facts and slip a hint once and a while about my sleep behavior. When I was about 21 years old and my ex and I had split, we tried to remain friends afterwards… anyway, during our relationship I remember fragments of things that occurred while I slept next to him. I remember telling him the most awful things that could really terrify him. I remember being helpless that I could not do as I wished, I could only do as I was told. I tried to give myself a hint by recording a small message to myself on my phone but he commanded me to stop before it could be completed. I was forced to share secrets that I have never shared before. after all that and I got my own place I feel like I have been sleep walking to the point that I have been leaving my home and talking to a friend that lived across the parking lot. I remember her telling me to pee in a garbage can. the next morning I woke up and there was pee in my garbage can. I questioned her but she played as if she had no idea. I remember getting people to walk me safely home and in return paying them with sunglasses and t-shirts and of course they did not tell me anything afterwards. now lately in my life in getting frustrated that I am waking up in the middle of the night with no knowledge of peeing on my laundry bag of clothes and this morning I peed on my jacket. I don’t understand why this is happening because this is new in my life of sleep walking. a neighbor down the hall said there was a puddle of pee in front of my door one day. I have no knowledge of this peeing until I notice that my items are damp. I peed on my old cellphone and realized it was totally dead, and the water detector sticker on the inside of the phone determined that it was soaked.
    nobody wants to share any information with me. my room mate I am sure has been exposed to my sleep behavior, I believe he Is playing with my mind when I sleep. I’ve caught him doing it before and I woke up out of rage because I don’t like the idea of being played with when I am trying to sleep. of course he had nothing to say about it afterwards.

    these are just some things that come to mind… any thoughts?

    • Hi Dill
      Thanks for your comment. I can imagine why this would be upsetting for you. Can I ask, do you drink a lot of liquids of any type in the evening? A good step might be to reduce how much you drink in the hour or two before bed.
      It also might be worth speaking to your doctor to check if there’s anything physical contributing to it. And again, they might be able to help you with the sleep walking.
      I’d also suggest keeping your front door locked and the key somewhere else in the house so you don’t go wondering in the night.
      I doubt your room mate is playing with your mind on a regular basis, but if you feel that way, perhaps it might be better to not share a room if you don’t feel you can trust your room mate? Or if you already sleep in different rooms, just keep your door locked at night.
      And finally, try the ideas in the article to see if that helps at all.

  • I have been sleepwalking possibly every night for around 9months ever since i gave birth… I keep finding myself checking if the gas in the kitchen is on… If there is someone in the living room… I used to sleep walk when i was young… In the morning i always recall it all… Today i had an injury… I hit my foot while in the dream i didn’t feel it till morning when i woke up

    • Hi Reene
      Thanks for your comment. Do you think perhaps you’re subconsciously worrying about your baby, and so checking the gas and for intruders in your sleep? Other readers have said in comments on this site that since giving birth their sleep was affected in a way that might suggest being more worried than usual. And I think that’s a very understandable thing!

  • I’m 22 and I have slept walked for the second time in two week and I’m totally freaked out….I’ve never done this before but I wake up running towards my bedroom door in complete fear of what? Idk…and then I unlock it and run towards the front door screaming for my mom and she always catches me when I’m figgeting with the locks….omg it scares the crap out of me idk why I’m running or who I’m running from or what I’m scared of…I can’t sleep anymore I’m so scared to close my eyes…

    • Hi Marissa
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you’d be concerned, especially if you’re waking up in the middle of doing these things. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? It might be good to get their advice, as well as following the advice in the article. I’d also suggest asking your mum to lock the main doors to the house and put the key somewhere, so you don’t go out in the night.

  • My name is Miranda Johnson and just the other night my boyfriend was drinking and around 1:30 in the morning I hear like running water. I woke up to find him peeing in the middle of his room. After he got done peeing he stumbled to the door and just wobbled back and forth reaching for the door handle. He got his hand on the door and couldnt seem to figure out how to turn it. I got out of bed and walked over and put my hand on him and asked if he was okay. He then looked at me, and when he looked at me I knew for a fact he was Sleepwalking. His eyes were glazed over he had drool coming out of his mouth and he looked like he was confused. I asked him if he was okay and he said yeah fine, then stumbled (almost fell over) back into his room. Stood in the middle of the room and peed again. Then wobbled back,and forth and turned towards the bed and if i hadnt of been standing just a couple feet away he would have fallen on the floor cause when he went to lay on the bed he missed it. I waited half an hour before i attempted to wake him up, was going to give hkm some water and a slice of bread to help soak up the alcohol in his system. I couldnt wake him up at all, and normally he wakes up real easily. A few nights before this he woke up atound the same time and walked to the kitchen and made food. This is a normal thing for him so when it woke me up i didnt think much about it, till morning came and there was lunch meat spread across the floor in his room and he asked me what was going on with all the food in his room. I told him he got food around 1:30 that morning and he looked at me like i was crazy, he said he didnt remember getting up and making food.. Im kinda getting worried about the sleepwalking, and I’m starting to recall other nights where he doesnt remember doing things and im wondering if he was sleepwalking then as well.

    • Hi Miranda
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern, and I think in your boyfriend’s case it might be useful to make the distinction between sleep walking when he hasn’t drunk alcohol, and just acting in an inappropriate way due to being intoxicated. If he drinks regularly, and these things happen when he does, then that would be one problem to deal with. If the sleep walking happens regularly when he doesn’t drink alcohol, that’s another matter. There’s been some debate in the part around blaming sleep walking, or something called confusional arousals, for behavior, when really alcohol is to blame. So, I’d have a chat with him and think about whether there’s a sleep disorder really behind this. And if there is, perhaps seek the advice of a doctor.

  • I have recently started sleep walking (I think so ne way) last night tho was kinda scary after my 6yo daughter told me about it and I remember most of it. I woke her up at a lil after 3am for school. I had her help me look around for my phone so I could Txt her dad and tell him we would meet later and I also went out side to the car. When she started telling me about it it all came back I remembered almost all of it. I did Txt her dad and also a friend, I went out side to the jeep and she hollered to me out the front door and I went back inside. Idk y I have started doing this stuff– the other time I woke up when I walked n2 the kitchen wall and the fridge. What if I would of tried to leave and left my 6yo and 2yo daughters alone or if I would end up getting hurt myself. I am very concerned now.

    • Hi Mary Ann
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern – many people worry about what they might do once they start engaging in more complex behavior like this while asleep. I think perhaps it might be helpful to talk it over with your doctor to get some advice. I’d also think about the ideas in the article to see if you can stabilize your sleep in general.

  • My 12 year old daughter has been sleepwalking every night for the pass week. But the weird thing is she goes strait to the couch. She sits there throughout the day. This is really scarring me. She walks down the stairs and lays down on the couch at about 3 in the morning. She has no symptoms of anything. I have read 25 articles but still have no clue why she does this.

    • Hi Mackenzie
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your frustration at not getting the answers you hope for. Sometimes though, there isn’t really any specific explanation for why people do things in their sleep. They just do and it’s down to their biology and/or life experiences. If it’s really upsetting you, my advice would be to speak to a doctor about it to get some reassurance. But I’d also try out the advice in the article and try not to allow it to stress you out too much. You might find it’s a phase which passes, and whilst she does this, the best thing you can do is stay calm and try to do what you can to get through it.

  • In the last year I have started sleepwalking. I am 40 and have never had this problem before. I walk up and down the stairs, talk to my husband somewhat normally, I get out pictures and look up people and things on my phone for no reason. I never recall the incident but I do become groggy the next day. The things I do in my sleep are very out of character. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I have gotten to the point I am afraid to go to sleep.

    • Hi Rebecca
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern, but yes, many people do quite complex things when they sleep walk. Whilst some might just get up and walk about, others do walk around and engage in behavior which you might associate with being more awake – such as looking at pictures in your case. If it’s concerning you a lot and disrupting your normal life and well-being, then perhaps talking to your doctor might be useful for you.

  • My most recent sleep walking incident was last year when I was on a camping trip. I had been drinking that evening. After falling asleep I woke up standing in the middle of a pitch black woods with no shoes on. I could see the dim orange glow of the remnants of our fire about 200 feet through the trees and found my way back to my hammock. Very scary!

    • Hi Elyse,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience of sleepwalking. I can understand why that must have been quite disturbing. Has that happened to your before when you’ve been drinking? Do you think alcohol is a trigger for sleepwalking for you?

  • I have tried various arm motions when wearing the Fitbit in its wrist band to see if it is misinterpreting my movements, and it doesn’t seem to be. It tends to under-count my steps instead of over-count. My husband heard me one night, but he generally comes to bed after I have been wandering and isn’t in a good position to catch me. All of the episodes have occurred in the first two hours of my going to sleep, except for one, but it explains why the covers are often pulled off of my side of the bed. I often have a feeling that I have done it, as well, although I never distinctly remember having done it. It is not nightly. I have been observed sleepwalking in the past, so this is not a new behavior. Thank you for replying.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for clarifying that, and it’s certainly now a very interesting idea. I might have to get in touch with the Fitbit people and ask them what they think about the concept of it being able to measure sleepwalking.
      It also makes sense what you say about having a feeling that you have sleepwalked, but without the distinct memory. I believe that is a common occurrence, and is something that research also points towards.
      Do you find anything in particular makes it more likely to happen? And have yo ever done more than a few steps as indicated by your Fitbit?

  • I have been sleepwalking off and on since I was 15. I didn’t know that my sleepwalking had persisted until I got a Fitbit and it showed that I was taking anywhere from 6 to 35 steps almost every night within the first two hours of going to sleep. I can’t see any pattern to the behavior, it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of day I’ve had, or if I’ve had a glass of wine or not. My children do not yet sleepwalk, but I wonder if they will start as teenagers like I did. My sleepwalking did start after I started having migraines, and I didn’t know that was a risk factor until I read your article.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Many thanks for your comment. I was really interested to hear how your Fitbit helped identify that you were still sleepwalking. Did you have anyone else confirm that you were sleep walking as well? I don’t think the fitbit itself confirms that someone is sleep walking, so I’m assuming that it has told you that you were walking, and you’ve made the obvious conclusion that you therefore must have been sleep walking.
      So it could be a good idea to have someone else confirm it, as sometimes those activity monitors can record steps due to other movements! So if you’re wearing it in bed, and tossing and turning, it may record that as walking rather than just the normal movements we all make when sleeping. Do you think that is a possibility, or are you sure you were out of bed and walking around?
      There is believed to be a strong genetic factor in sleepwalking, so it is possible that your children may well start at some stage, but there is no guarantee and they may not at all.
      And medical research has indeed identified that migraine sufferers have a much greater probability, perhaps as high as 30%, of sleepwalking. I hope you are not still suffering from migraines though, and that you can go back to sleeping better again.
      Let me know you thoughts, as it is very interesting about the Fitbit.

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