What Your Sleepwalking Means for Your Kids

Sleep terrors appear to increase the chance of sleepwalking, too
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2015 7:47 AM CDT
What Your Sleepwalking Means for Your Kids
A statue of a man sleepwalking in his underpants is surrounded by snow on the campus of Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Mass., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Newser) – Kids whose parents sleepwalked are more likely to do it themselves—and sleep terrors may be a precursor to sleepwalking as well, according to a new study out of Montreal published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Not that sleepwalking, also called somnambulism, is necessarily a big deal. "Not all sleepwalking is problematic," the lead author tells CBC News. "Very often you don't need to do anything with sleepwalking. [But] in some rare cases there's potential for injury." She adds that sleepwalkers, who tend to be 10 to 13 years old, often climb stairs or fix snacks without issue, but can run into problems in cases of those who go outside and suffer hypothermia or other problems.

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The study of almost 2,000 children aged 1.5 to 13 found that almost half of those who sleepwalked had a parent who did. Nearly two-thirds of kids whose parents both sleepwalked also did, while just a quarter of those whose parents didn't sleepwalk were somnambulists. "It's definitely genetic," another researcher tells CNN. "Prevention is really the cure in these situations. You want to make sure the child is not overtired, stressed out, over-scheduled. And have a nice calming ritual at bedtime so the child can actually calm himself down before going to sleep." The same can be true for kids with sleep terrors, though unlike when a child has a nightmare, cuddling can actually make sleep terrors worse as the child tends not to come fully awake and may not recognize the comforter. (This man died while sleepwalking.)

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