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Sleep walking at 3 years old?

My oldest DD is 3 years old and I have been catching her sleep walking. Sometimes what she does makes sense, but then there are times where I have no idea what she is doing. I had put her to bed tonight and went to go upstairs to bed and there she was sitting at the top of the stairs, had wet herself, and was totally asleep. I gently touched her shoulder and asked her what she was doing and she didn't even respond. Finally I woke her up and asked her again what she was doing and she jumped up and seemed confused and asked me where we were going. I am scared she is going to end up hurt one of these times. What could be causing this and what can I do to help?


Asked by amber1330 at 11:54 PM on Aug. 20, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (9)
  • Your daughters reaction was typical. The sleep walker walks during the deepest part of sleep. That makes them difficult to wake in the first place. When you do wake them they can react violently at best they are generally confused, disoriented and upset. My son walked straight off the top of the stairs(14) stairs down two different times. He never hurt himself. We had to put special flip locks on the top of exterior doors so he could not get out alone. We had a neighbor 3 doors down call at 3AM and told us he was at her house asking for kool-aid...he never did wake up. T%heir eyes may be open while asleep.

    Answer by GrnEyedGrandma at 12:03 AM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • Be very, very careful about waking a sleep walker. My youngest started SW at 3. He is 25 and still dpoes when he's stressed. It is better to take them gently by the hand and take them back to bed. If you HAVE to wake them up dim the room lights and only extremely soft, gentle voices.

    Answer by GrnEyedGrandma at 11:57 PM on Aug. 20, 2011

  • My son did that a few times when he was around 3. One night he walked out to the living room, sat down next to me and his dad on the couch, and just starred off into space. I said to him "Dylan, are you ok?" and he just nodded. So I took his hand, and walked him back down to bed.
    I dont think you should be concerned, because Im pretty sure it is normal for some kids to sleep walk. But you should probably put up some baby gates near any stairs to keep up at night just in case, and keep her floor clear so she doesnt get up and trip over any toys. If there is any furniture near her bedroom door I would move it so she doesnt aim wrong and run her head into a bureau or something.

    Answer by okane_e at 12:07 AM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • Could apnea cause sleep walking? She had infant apnea and I have questioned whether or not she still has the problem due to catching her gasping for air at times when sleeping and also she seems overly tired at times. She is due for another sleep study soon. I knew I shouldn't wake her up, but when I moved her to clean her up she did wake up, but like I said she jumped up and was super confused.

    Comment by amber1330 (original poster) at 12:07 AM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • My husband didn't realize our son was sleep walking one time and startled him. Dad got a punch in the face for that one. My son didn't mean to intentionally punch was a 'normal' reaction when waking a sleepwalker.

    Answer by GrnEyedGrandma at 12:15 AM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • My daughter has sleep walked since she was about 2. One time I found her balancing on her headboard trying to reach the stick that opens the blinds. I find that usually she sleep walks when she has to go to the bathroom, so I make sure she doesn't drink much before bed and goes to the bathroom right before bed. The couple of times that I did try to wake her up, she was hysterical and disoriented.

    Answer by JeanetteRene at 12:17 AM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • I don't know, but I would definitely discuss this issue with your doctor!!!

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 12:34 AM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • I sleep walk, have since I was a child & never knew why, because I never remembered even dreams the nights I walked. A roommate in college who was a psych major explained it this way: most people go through 3 stages of sleep, the 3rd being the deepest, where we dream. A person who sleepwalks goes into a 4th stage of sleep where the brain basically thinks it is awake, so the person may get up and do activities either that they do everyday or in reaction to a dream they are having. I used to do all sorts of things, most often I would simply get up and stand by my parents bed "staring" at them until they woke up. They never woke me, just told me to go back to bed and I would. Our doors were always locked, and if we ever traveled they would make sure the hotel room door was locked. You should bring it up to your doctor, but as long as she is still rested/happy in the morning I wouldn't make too big a deal of it.

    Answer by preacherskid at 12:08 PM on Aug. 21, 2011

  • Bring it up with your doctor if you're concerned and it continues. I know a lot of people who went through sleep walking phases... but that's just it... they were phases.

    Good luck!

    Answer by AdensMama0308 at 12:54 PM on Aug. 21, 2011