So for the past few months my 5 year old has been waking up and getting up in the middle of the night every night he refuses to wake his dad or I, he was eating tons of food for instance he ate whole box of cereal unopened and a whole box of crackers at one time he eats plenty during meals and snack time I’ve now put locks on everything now he’s just playing, he “says” he doesn’t remember what toys he plays with or what food he eats. I just don’t know what to do.

  • 1
    Does he go back to bed when he's done? Do you know how long the episodes last? Have you tried waiting up for him, or using a camera? Actually doing things without remembering them is something I'd take to a professional, but you imply you don't believe him, is there a reason for that?
    – user26011
    Jan 5, 2018 at 0:10
  • I would love to stay up but I wake up at 4 am for work, he does go back to bed, I’ve thought about cameras but they are costly and here lately he has a very vivid imagination Jan 5, 2018 at 2:44
  • I posted an answer but, in the meantime, perhaps you could simply record what time he wakes up? For a week. And, if you can, for how long.
    – Jax
    Jan 5, 2018 at 4:11
  • And, if you approach him while he's eating, does he respond? If so, how?
    – Jax
    Jan 5, 2018 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


it sounds to me like your son is sleepwalking. This is a sleep "disorder" and is more common in children than in adults. During sleepwalking episodes, a person appears to be awake, but is in fact very much asleep. In fact, they are usually in one of the deepest parts of the sleep cycle. Sleepwalkers don't just "walk"- they perform all kinds of activities ranging from sitting up and mumbling to driving a car. Eating is another common activity. Here is a link to more info on sleepwalking: [https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/sleep-walking/)]

I have a 5 year old who, like your son, wakes up several times a week. It is sometimes every night. His episodes are more like night terrors, but the two (night terrors and sleepwalking) are similar in that the person/child does not remember the episode. It is VERY frustrating, and, scary at times. My boy is destructive and LOUD when he gets up, and if we do not intervene in time, will urinate in strange places, or will hurt himself or someone else if he goes into "fight" mode of "fight or flight" out of fear. He has no idea what's going on, doesn't recognize anyone or his surroundings, and doesn't remember anything. His eyes are wide open, and blank. He makes horrid faces, like he's seen the devil. He can't be comforted. It's really, really awful, and if he happens to wake his brother up (age 7, who shares the room) it terrifies him. We have discovered, over time and by taking notes, that he wakes up at a predictable time, and, that it coincides with a full bladder. He was a bedwetter, and we used to get him up at 11 pm, about 3 hrs after going to sleep, to use the toilet to prevent bed wetting, but stopped around age 4.5 when he finally could make it through he night or, get up on his own. That's when the "episodes" started. It wasn't until we talked to is pediatrician about it that we made the correlation. He suggested we try going back to bathroom visits at 11 to see if it helps, and it does.

There is no real "cure" for this so for now, we cope with it until he grows out of it. We cope by doing a controlled wake up. This prevents him from disrupting everyone's sleep by gently, minimally, disrupting his. we wake him around the time he would usually have an episode. We very gently, without speaking to him at all or turning on lights, sit him up and then walk him to the bathroom. Sometimes he pees, sometimes he doesn't. When he's done, we bring him back to bed. The key is to not wake him all the way-just enough to skip the part of his sleep cycle when he is likely to sleepwalk/ have a night terror. We noticed that after some time of consistently doing this, it got to be easier and easier to get our boy to cooperate. Now, some nights, he is getting up on his own and walking to the bathroom unaccompanied after we wake him. We are hoping he's on his way to growing out of this. Combined with his colicky infancy, it's been a long, sleepless road with this boy, and we'd love to start sleeping thru the night!

If you do some research on the topic of sleep walking and night terrors, you will find guidance on controlled wake up method. It is not ideal-you still have to be up, and to wake him up (a little) but it's far less disruptive and dangerous than allowing the behavior to continue. Everyone is less stressed and awake less time overall. Take comfort knowing it will pass, that it's fairly normal, and, that your child probably isn't lying to you! I'd also suggest you bring it up at his next doctors visit. Your pediatrician will most likely be able to give you even more insight and advice.

Good luck, and, when you can, sweet dreams!

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