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Health Information Center


  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:





Sleepwalking is a type of sleep disorder. It leads to complex movement or action during sleep. Sleepwalking may include simple actions like walking or talking or more dangerous tasks like cooking or driving. The person often has no memory of the event since they are still asleep.


It is not clear why some people are more likely to sleepwalk than others. Sleepwalking may be triggered by:

Risk Factors

Sleepwalking is more common in children up to about 12 years old. It can happen in adults.

Your chances of sleepwalking are higher if you have:

  • Certain genes
  • A family history of sleepwalking


Movements or action during sleep is the most common symptom. Someone who is sleepwalking:

  • Will not respond to others
  • May have open eyes
  • Moves in ways that don't make sense or are clumsy
  • May talk
  • Does not remember the event


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health past. A physical exam will be done. A sleep study may be done. Sleep will watched in a clinic. This will show possible sleep problems. An EEG may be done. It measures brain waves and can help to rule out other problems.


Treatment may not be needed if sleepwalking does not happen often. Children may also grow out of it as they age. Sleepwalking may need treatment if it:

  • Makes it hard to get good sleep on a regular basis
  • Leads to harmful or dangerous events such as leaving house or injury
  • Interrupts other people's sleep

Treatment steps will be based on needs. Steps may include:


The tendency to sleepwalk cannot be prevented. Treatment and good sleep habits may decrease the number of events.





  • Sleepwalking. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sleepwalking. Updated June 27, 2017. Accessed February 4, 2020.
  • Sleepwalking. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/sleepwalking. Updated May 23, 2019. Accessed February 4, 2020.
  • Sleepwalking. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/sleepwalking. Accessed February 4, 2020.


  • Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.