Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/27/the_odd_body_wake_sleepwalker/

Is it dangerous to wake a sleepwalker?

Wake me up so the action starts

By Stephen Juan

Posted in Science, 27th January 2007 09:02 GMT

Also in this week's column:

Is it dangerous to wake a sleepwalker?

Asked by Gale Power of Manly, NSW, Australia

It is a myth that it is dangerous to wake up a sleepwalker because it may cause them a heart attack, shock, brain damage, or something else. It is not a myth that it is dangerous to wake up a sleepwalker because of the possible injury the sleepwalker may inflict upon themselves or the person waking them up.

According to Dr Giuseppe Plazzi of the Department of Neurological Sciences at the University of Bologna in Italy, rousing a sleepwalking person, especially vigorously, might confuse or distress them temporarily. Disoriented, they may strike out at anyone close. It is best not to be in their way.

Instead, it might be better to simply guide them back to bed in their sleep. It is not likely that a sleepwalker when woken up suddenly will have a cardiac event. It is no different from when a person sleeping normally is suddenly awakened by, say, a loud noise. The important thing is to protect a sleepwalker from themselves.

Dr Plazzi and four colleagues recently reviewed research on sleepwalking in the December 2005 issue of Neurological Sciences. According to the Plazzi study:

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au