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No, it's not dangerous, but it might not be much fun. Sleepwalking usually occurs during deep sleep, so your child will not only be difficult to awaken, but will probably be pretty disoriented if you are able to wake her up. It's usually much easier for everyone if you just gently guide your little wanderer back to bed.
It's not uncommon for children to sleepwalk – though sleepwalking tends to taper off as children get older. Sources say that 15 percent of kids ages 3 to 6 sleepwalk, while only 6 percent of elementary school-age children stroll when they're asleep.
Because most sleepwalkers rise from their beds just an hour to two after falling asleep, they're often discovered by parents who haven't turned in yet. But don't count on catching your night walker in the act. If your child is a sleepwalker, step up your childproofing efforts to keep her from hurting herself:
- Make sure obstacles (toys on the floor, for example) are out of the way so your child doesn't trip over them in the night.
- Install a safety gate at the top of the stairs.
- Lock windows and outside doors so she can't open them.
- Consider putting a bell on your child's door to alert you if she tries to leave her room.
- Don't allow a sleepwalker to sleep in a bunk bed.
Children seem to take nightly strolls most often when they're overtired, feverish, or anxious. Having a full bladder can also make your child more likely to sleepwalk, so limit how much water she drinks in the evening, and make sure she goes to the bathroom before bed. And practice a healthy bedtime routine by sticking to a regular sleep schedule.
Sleepwalking also happens more often in children with obstructive sleep apnea, so if your child is a frequent sleepwalker it's worth checking with her doctor to rule out this problem. Also, talk to the doctor if your child gets injured while sleepwalking or seems especially anxious or stressed.
Otherwise, just be patient – most kids eventually outgrow nighttime wandering.