Waking A Sleepwalker

Supposedly you shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker. Why? Will they go apeshit and start wailing on you? Will they suffer irreversible trauma? If so, mental or physical?

Or is this just another bit of folk wisdom whose debunking time has come?



It looks as if debunking time has arrived.

I imagine people being woken while sleepwalking is a jolt to the walker hence the myth. I’m not a nice person when woken so perhaps leading me back to bed is the best option. AFAIK I have never sleepwalked although the link above says it is fairly common, especially in children.

I’m a sleepwalker, though I don’t do it often. It can be very disconcerting, even frightening, to wake up in the middle of it. Generally, when you wake up in the middle of a dream you have lots of cues as to where you are-the familiar smells and textures, the weight of the blanket, etc., help to bring you back to reality. Waking up out of bed is sort of like waking up in a strange place (that moment when you don’t quite remember where you are) but even more so.

Children having night terrors sometimes lash out at the parent trying to comfort them. The one time I hurt myself sleepwalking, I did it just as I was coming up out of it. I was standing on the bed and as I woke up, I stepped back and fell off. So I think it makes a lot of sense to try to lead the sleepwalker back to bed without waking him.

Robinh is right. It can be very dangerous to wake a sleepalker if the sleepwalker is a very deep sleeper or prone to night terrors. I was a terrible sleepwalker as a teenager and the few times that people tried to wake me, I became VERY violent and ending up hurting myself and the person that was trying to wake me. This can be one of the most terrifying experiences that someone can have. I would never recommend waking a sleepwalker unless he is in immediate danger.