If you’ve never been around someone who is an active sleeper, it’s pretty scary the first time you experience it! While the general rule of thumb is never to wake a sleepwalker, sometimes the situation calls for it!
Sleepwalking can range from sitting up in bed to walking around and doing things like eating! The person sleepwalking is usually in a deep sleep, and they’ll wake up with no recollection of any events that happened during that time.
What’s disturbing is that their eyes are sometimes open, and it doesn’t seem like they’re awake, but they won’t acknowledge you. Although it’s more common in children, it tends to follow some people into adulthood, so what do you do when someone is sleepwalking?
If you’re living with someone who’s sleepwalking, you’ll want to make sure that you’re woken up if they try to leave the house. Leaving the house in a state where they aren’t aware of their surroundings is dangerous; they can fall and get hurt or even walk into a road.
Keep your doors and windows locked at night. Have alarms installed so that if a window or door opens while you’re asleep, you can wake up and catch them before they get hurt!
You also want to remove all the items on the floor that could potentially be hazardous and cause them to trip or get hurt. This includes items that are sharp or breakable, like knives or glass ornaments.
Try to keep them away from stairs; not being conscious of their surroundings means that they can easily miss a step and fall and get hurt. You should also hide any keys in case the person tries to get in the car and drive!
Wake them up
Waking them up isn’t necessary unless they’re in danger. When they’re harmless, you can guide them back to bed, but if they’re in danger, you need to be as gentle as possible.
Sometimes when you wake a sleepwalker up, they can turn violent, so being gentle is key! This means avoiding shaking, slapping, and yelling when trying to wake them.
If you’re having difficulty waking them being gentle, you need to find a safe space at a distance and then try waking them up using a louder tone. The distance is to keep you safe in case they’re startled and put you in danger of being hit.
The best way to keep your eye on it is to monitor the pattern of activity. This may involve keeping a detailed diary throughout the day so that you can track if specific experiences trigger an episode of sleepwalking.
You also want to establish if there’s a specific time that the sleepwalking occurs so it can be prevented. A method that works is waking the person up fifteen minutes before the episode usually occurs, keep them awake for a few minutes before putting them back to sleep.
If the person has already experienced a sleepwalking episode, you can wake them up for a few minutes after the episode is over. This helps make sure that another episode doesn’t occur in the same sleep cycle.
Remember that safety should be your first priority, and you should consult your doctor if the episodes of sleepwalking happen frequently. They’ll then find out the underlying cause of sleepwalking and help you rest better!
Dr Saadiqah Hajat