Sleepwalking is one mainfestation of the fact that in sleep, certain parts of the brain may not "shut down" properly and sporadically cause outward signs of brain activity. Other examples of this sort of activity are sleeptalking and night terrors. They are techinically disorders of incomplete arousal.

All of these activities are characterised by amnesia of the spell the next morning - the child can't remember a thing. Also, your child is not dreaming or acting out a dream. During dreams, we are paralysed and motionless except for the rapid movements of the eyes "watching the dream".

During a sleepwalking episode, your child may sit up, mumble, fiddle with her clothes, and get out of bed and walk around the room. When you ask what she is doing, she may mumble something incoherent but most likely won t answer you at all.

If your child sleepwalks, the most important thing to do is prevent injury. Keep doors and windows closed and locked. If necessary, your child may have to sleep on the ground floor of your home. Make sure there are no possibly dangerous objects in the bedroom that your child might reach.

If you find your child sleepwalking, just gently guide her back to bed. Don't yell to wake your child up. Don't shake her or make loud noises.

Sleepwalking and its variants seem to be inherited and is usually outgrown. In rare cases, medications are given for particularly persistent problems.

Remember, your child is actually in deep sleep when this all occurs and has no knowledge of or control over the activity. Don't make a big deal about it, scold or shame your child. Remember always that sleepwalking is a disorder of brain arousal, not an emotional problem.

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