Dangerous to awaken a sleepwalker
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Dangerous to awaken a sleepwalker

This misconception probably stems from bad experiences people may have had after startling a sleepwalker into consciousness: The person may have struck out in defense, or tripped and fallen. But it is not psychologically dangerous to wake a sleepwalker, and it is certainly more dangerous to let the sleeping person wander around, because he or she could get hurt. Leading a sleepwalker to a safe place, such as an uncluttered area in a room, or back to bed, is a good idea. Experts think getting the person back to bed without waking him or her is an even better one, because it may allow the person to move gently into the next stage of sleep, perhaps resolving whatever issue may have led to the nighttime restlessness of sleepwalking. A chronic problem, however, might merit medical or psychiatric attention, of only because the person might do something dangerous during sleep, such as wander onto a balcony or into the street. Sleepwalkers report having nightmares or night terrors 60 percent of the time, though sleepwalking and the dream state do not in fact coincide. Whether the person sleepwalks or not, it is best to let him or her sleep through a nightmare or night terror so as to complete the dream. If a dreamer screams out in the middle of the night, do not try to restrain or rouse the person unless it's necessary for safety. Instead, touch and speak to the person gently and soothingly, reassuring him or her that everything's all right, and you're there. Then let the dreamer return to sleep as soon as possible.

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