It’s like an image out of a horror movie. You are surprised to see your spouse or child walking throughout the house, but they’re completely unresponsive to anything you say. But sleepwalking isn’t something out of a horror movie, it’s a very real and medically explainable phenomenon. Most advice suggests that you don’t wake a sleepwalker, but what if you have to for their safety? There are ways to do it safely, and here’s how.

 

Guide Them Back to Bed

If you see your loved one walking in their sleep, your first line of action should be to guide them back to bed. It’s best to do this without touching them. If you can, do this as though you would herding sheep. Gently block their path and redirect them to the bedroom. This is especially effective if you’re able to avoid stairs.

You can make light contact with them, such as gently touching their shoulders or back, to help you guide them back to bed. Allowing them to continue walking can be dangerous as sleepwalkers have been known to engage in dangerous behavior such as driving.

 

Don’t Shake Them

If guiding them back to bed doesn’t seem to work, make sure you don’t shake them. A jarring motion to wake a sleepwalker can cause them distress. They may even fight back.

If a sleepwalker feels attacked, they may not be aware of their own physical response. Not only can they hurt themselves, but they can hurt you in the process. Avoid shaking at all costs.

 

Use Noise and Keep Your Distance

The best solution when waking a sleep walker is to use a loud noise while keeping your distance. The loud noise will startle them and they will wake up, but you want to make sure you’re not standing in striking distance to avoid injury to yourself or your sleep walker.

Make sure the noise is loud and sharp. You can shout at them along with a sharp hand clap which will hopefully trigger them to wake.

 

Explain What Happened

Of course, once they are awake make sure you let them know what’s happened. They will be startled by the event itself, but it can be even more disoriented for them to find themselves out of their bed and anywhere else in the house.

Once they are fully awake and able to process the information, let them know they were sleep walking. Help them back to bed and, depending on the age and emotional needs of your sleep walker, comfort them until they can go back to bed.

Make sure that you are also creating a calming sleep routine for yourself. It can raise your adrenaline levels to assist with someone who is sleep walking, which may impede your ability to go back to sleep as well.

If your spouse or child are having frequent sleepwalking episodes, you may want to consult a medical professional to determine if there are any underlying causes and how to prevent sleepwalking in the future.

Laura Lavoie

Laura M. LaVoie is a freelance writer from Asheville, NC where she enjoys the craft beer scene, the Tiny House movement, general geekry, and making sure she gets a full 8 hours of sleep every night.

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