If you’ve ever stumbled out of bed at night to grab a drink of water or use the bathroom, you probably know just how easy it is to accidentally stub a toe or knock something over unintentionally. Even though you’re incredibly groggy at the time, you’re awake—which means that you’re aware that you’ve gotten out of bed and hurt yourself. People who sleepwalk are not awake and are not as sensitive to a stubbed toe.
What Is Sleepwalking?
It may be fodder for bad jokes and sitcom scenes, but sleepwalking is an actual medical condition which causes a sleeping person to perform seemingly “wakeful” acts such as sitting up and looking around, getting out of bed, walking, dressing and undressing, eating and drinking and even driving. It is important to note that they are actually sleeping and not aware of their actions.
Sleepwalking can occur at any age, but it is most common among 5 to 12-year-old children. Parents are often find that children who sleepwalk typically outgrow it by the time they reach adolescence, but even that reassurance doesn’t make the habit any easier to deal with while it’s actively occurring.
How to Keep Your Sleepwalking Child Secure
Safety should be the number one concern of parents with sleepwalkers. Children typically sleepwalk an hour or two after they go to bed, which means that parents are often still awake when younger kids start to sleepwalk, but it can happen at any time. Not only could a child trip on a toy and injure himself in his own bedroom, but also, he could fall down a flight of stairs or even wander outdoors, into the street.
Fortunately, there are a variety of locks and alarms on the market that can help to keep a sleepwalking child safely inside at night.
- Magnetic door and window alarms that run on batteries and go off when the magnetic contact is broken are an easy way for parents to be alerted if their child goes outdoors or climbs out the window. A piercing alarm sounds as soon as the alarm is activated. You can purchase a two-pack on Amazon for $11.
- Sliding glass door locks are essential in homes with sliding glass doors. They flip down to prevent intruders from breaking in, but they can also keep sleepwalking children from getting out. These excellent safety and child-proofing locks, which can be flipped up when you are going in and out of doors during the day, are easy for homeowners to install. They sell for around $8 on Amazon.
- Lockable safety gates are designed to keep curious babies and pets in and out of rooms and can also be used to help keep a sleepwalker in his or her own bedroom. A gate may also be placed at the top of a staircase to prevent falls. A variety of gates are available on Amazon, ranging in price from $29 to $100, depending on length, height, finish and style.
- Cabinet locks are used to help prevent someone from opening drawers and cabinets and can prevent a sleepwalking child from grabbing poisonous cleaning products, medicines, kitchen knives, and other products that could potentially cause harm. Some locks must be screwed directly into the cabinets while others are easily removable. Amazon offers multiple types and styles.
A home alarm system is a wise idea for families with members who have been known to sleepwalk, particularly if the sleepwalkers are children. Even if a child only sleepwalks occasionally or “wakes up” without wandering the house, it is better to be safe than sorry. Preventative measures could help prevent tragedy.
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Chris Turberville-Tully works for LocksMark, a home security locksmith Reading residents use to help unlock their cars, install new locks on homes and other locksmithing services.