Could My 4 Year Old Be Sleepwalking?

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  • January 09, 2014

Would you like me to answer your toddler sleep problem in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

  Hi, I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady. Today, I’m going to answer Desiree’s question:

“I have two beautiful daughters who are 6 and 4 years old. My oldest sleeps great and always has. My youngest is a very light sleeper. She gets up and quietly sneaks around the house. One night she got in to the medicine cabinet and ate some medicine. And another night, the snack cabinet and ate seven bags of food snacks. Recently, she went to the neighbor’s house by herself at 6 a.m. My husband is in the army and leaves at 4 a.m. most of the time and we have chains on the front and backdoor but he can’t lock those when he leaves.

“I feel that I’m either a bad parent or just have no control over my daughter. I’m afraid of what she’ll do next. I’m thinking about putting some soft music on in her room and laying outside the door until she falls asleep but I’m losing sleep over this and it’s affecting my marriage. Thanks for any help, Desiree.”

 

Signs of Sleep Walking

 

Desiree, I think your daughter is sleepwalking. And this is not about being a bad parent or you having no control. Granted, you really didn’t give me enough details about what happens at bedtime, but usually the onset of sleepwalking is between 4 and 8 years old. There may also be some family history or other factors, but I first, I want you to do these things: sleep walking

1. Make an appointment to see your pediatrician and share with them what Jade is doing.

2. You need to get up with your husband when he leaves at work at 4 a.m. and lock the front and backdoor of the house. Please do this immediately as leaving the house is incredibly dangerous.

3. Clean out the medicine cabinet, and try to make the area as safe as possible.

You may also try putting a chair in front of her door. Sometimes something simple like running in to a chair when a child is sleepwalking will wake them enough to go back in to bed. Again, I really want you to go to your doctor immediately because this is first and foremost a safety concern. There are some factors that affect or increase the rate of sleepwalking which include deprivation. Please make sure she’s going to bed early enough and sleeping long enough in the morning as best you can. Also, any fevers, sicknesses, or significant stresses in her environment can affect sleep walking, and of course, sleep apnea.

 

Check for Sleep Apnea

 

Sleep apnea is often caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and is something to talk about with you doctor. Her pediatrician is going to look for these signs: Does she mouth breathe? Loud breathing when she sleeps at night? Snoring, or sweating when she’s sleeping? Restless sleeping? Gather all of your information and get in to your pediatrician and make your home as safe as possible in the meantime. Thank you so much for writing in your question, Desiree.

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have experienced a child who wakes up sleep walks, please share your experience below. Please click the “reply” link under this article and leave this mom a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

photo credit: slightlywinded via photopin cc

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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