Sleepwalking occurs when a person appears to be awake and moving around but is actually asleep. They have no memory of their actions. Sleepwalking most often occurs during deep non-REM sleep (stage 3) early in the night. This disorder is most commonly seen in children ages eight to twelve; however, sleepwalking can occur among younger children, adults and elderly patients.
Sleepwalking appears to run in families. Contrary to what many people believe, it is not dangerous to wake a person who is sleepwalking. The sleepwalker simply may be confused or disoriented for a short time upon awakening. Although waking a sleepwalker is not dangerous, sleepwalking itself can be dangerous because the person is unaware of his or her surroundings and can bump into objects or fall down. In most children, it tends to stop as they enter the teen years. Keeping the person safe is the primary consideration. It may be necessary to place alarms on doors and windows and to never allow the sleepwalker to sleep above the first floor.