Questions and Answers

Is it True You Should Never Wake a Sleepwalker?

By Herzi Pinki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve always heard that if you catch someone sleepwalking, under no circumstance should you try to wake them.

Have you ever heard this? But the question I suddenly started thinking was, “Is it true?” A couple of years ago I did a post on sleepwalking called, Living Zombies Among Us. And we talked about a lot of different aspects of sleepwalking.

But in this post I want to focus on whether or not it’s true that you should never wake a sleepwalker.

The Truth Behind Waking a Sleepwalker

From the information I’ve discovered during my research on the subject, it’s seems that not waking a sleepwalker is definitely some good advice. But this may not be for the reasons you would expect.

Believe it or not, the act of sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is quite common. Actually around thirty percent of children seem to have this condition from time to time.

The advice of not waking a sleepwalker actually goes back for centuries. Some of the rumored dangers of waking someone who’s sleepwalking consist of heart attack, brain damage and sometimes that they may become violent upon waking. One case dating back to 1841 suggests a young woman who suddenly awoke from sleepwalking almost died instantly.

Confirmed Cases of Waking a Sleepwalker

The case previously discussed of the young woman almost dying after waking has never been confirmed. But there are some studies done on this.

The reality of what happens when someone is suddenly awoke from sleepwalking is quite a bit less severe.

Studies show that sleepwalkers, when suddenly awoken, are more likely to be disoriented, and even scared, mainly from finding themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. Think about it, if you all of the sudden woke up and found yourself somewhere and had no idea how you got there, this would be alarming.

But in all reality, this is about as serious as it gets. Now keep in mind, this sudden shock of finding yourself in unfamiliar surroundings could lead to violent behavior or hysteria.

How to Deal with a Sleepwalker

So what is the remedy for this situation? Doctors recommend that you gently and slowly lead the sleepwalker back to their bed rather than trying to wake them. This helps to prevent them from having to wake not knowing what’s going on.

That being said, waking someone who is sleepwalking may potentially be dangerous for the one doing the waking. But there really is no danger to the sleepwalker. Unless of course they have wondered into dangerous surroundings and harm themselves.

For instance, in 2007, a teen from Demmin, Germany wondered out of the window in a fourth-floor apartment. It was a thirty foot drop to the ground, which of course led to some serious damage. He wound up breaking his arm and leg, but even after, continued his peaceful slumber!


So in conclusion, if you live with someone that is known to sleepwalk, please keep a close eye on them. If you find them in a slumberly stroll, the best course of action is to lead them gently back to the bedroom and get them back into bed before anything bad happens.

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3 thoughts on “Is it True You Should Never Wake a Sleepwalker?
  1. I have also heard that it’s not wise to wake a sleepwalker. But on my asking no one never could give me any satisfactory logical answer about whether it’s true or false. Here I’ve found some good logic.

  2. I never heard this superstition before, my sister was a sleep walker and I would wake her up and tell her to go back to bed. She would be confused and disoriented but never freaked out … and definitely didn’t die thank goodness!!!! I think it is just like waking someone up when they are dreaming, confusing and sleepy but not dangerous.

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