HomeHealth Topics A to ZSleepwalking: Fact vs. Fiction
Health Topics

Sleepwalking: Fact vs. Fiction

By DuPage Medical Group Sleep Medicine

More than likely, you know someone who sleepwalks or you yourself have sleepwalked. Sleepwalking is quite common, but so are sleepwalking myths. So, what is fact and what is fiction?

Below are 5 sleepwalking myths debunked:
1.  Myth: You should never wake a sleepwalker.

Fact: This is the most commonly-heard myth about sleepwalking. Waking a sleepwalker will not cause them to have a heart attack, stroke, or other trauma. It may cause them some disorientation for a few moments, but will not cause them long-term trauma. The best thing you can do for a sleepwalker is to gentle guide them back to bed. If that does not work, keep an eye on them to make sure they do not trip over anything or fall down stairs.

2.  Myth: Sleepwalking is random.

Fact: Oftentimes, parents who have experienced sleepwalking pass it down to their children. There are certain genetic links that cause a person to sleepwalk. In addition, common sleepwalking causes include: sleep deprivation, fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety, fever, disrupted sleep schedule, and some medications.

3.  Myth: Sleepwalking is dangerous.

Fact: Sleepwalking is usually not dangerous; however, incidents can occur if the sleepwalker is near stairs or other items that could cause harm. In rare occasions, sleepwalkers have jumped out of a window, left the house, or driven a car, but this is rare.

4.  Myth: Sleepwalking mainly occurs in adults.

Fact: Sleepwalking mostly occurs in young children before their teenage years. While sleepwalking can occur in adults, it is most often found in children.

5.  Myth: Sleepwalkers walk with their arms straight ahead like a zombie.

Fact: Most sleepwalkers do not walk like zombies. Sleepwalkers often have a glazed, glassy-eyed expression or complete routine activities such as getting dressed or making a snack.


If you or someone you know is having problems with sleepwalking, talk your primary care physician or see a sleep specialist.

Topics and Subtopics: Children's Health & Sleep

Receive more health tips and DMG news right in your inbox!
Sign up for the Live Life Well newsletter