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Experts Corner

Pediatrics/Children's Health

Sleepwalking
By Barbara Parker, RN, ARNP, CNM

Q. My four year old is a very restless sleeper some nights. She talks in her sleep, sits up, and last night she got up looking for her baby sister. Around 4:00 am I heard her calling "mommy, mommy." I got out of bed and couldn't find her for a moment until I realized she was in the bathroom looking for her baby sister in the tub (the house was pitch black). Of course she doesn't remember this. Is this normal at this age and is there anything that can be done? I'm afraid she might fall down the stairs. My mother-in-law had a sleep disorder that included narcolepsy and night terrors. Could this be inherited?

A. To my knowledge, night terrors and sleepwalking are not inherited. It is common for kids about her age to have some experience with sleep walking. You just need to be sure that she can't get into anything and hurt herself in the night, so you might consider putting a safety gate up across the stairs or across the door to her room so she can't "escape". I know of kids who left the house and wandered in the back yard, then returned to have a bed full of grass clippings in the morning!! That would certainly scare me to death!!

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