This is the latest installment of a regular feature here at SleepBetter.org: Sleep Myth Monday, where we bust sleep myths wide open, or verify that they’re actually not myths at all.
Myth or Truth: You should never wake a sleepwalker, because the shock could give them a heart attack.
There’s no evidence that awakening a sleepwalker can induce a heart attack. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always a great idea. First of all, in most cases sleepwalking is done in one of the deepest phases of sleep. This means it may be very hard to wake the sleepwalker. Second, a sleepwalker who is awakened is usually groggy and disoriented, and will sometimes end up being terrified because they don’t know what’s going on. This was probably the genesis for the “heart attack” myth.
The best bet for a sleepwalker is just to gently guide him/her back to the safety of bed, using a calming voice.
To learn more about sleepwalking, check out this SleepBetter article: Sleepwalking: A Common Problem.