What is sleepwalking?


Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleeping disorder in which a person wakes up from sleep and walks around at night. We have heard of walking and performing conscious activities during sleep.  It is associated with complex behavioral changes in the personality of individuals.

Mostly a single episode of sleepwalking is noticed per night. The duration of a single incident is around 5-15 minutes. Individuals are doubtful with little or no memory of acts that they had done at the previous night.  They usually do not remember this incident. The onset of sleepwalking is often in a deep sleep, but it can occur in 1-2 hours of falling asleep.

Sleepwalking is more common in children than adults, particularly at the age of three to seven years. Children with sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing patterns are changes are at a higher risk for developing it.  The prevalence of sleepwalking is 1-15% in the general population. It is found no to be associated with psychiatric and psychological problems.

It is a partially hereditary disorder. According to a study, it is ten times more likely to occur if your first relative has a history of this disorder. The causes behind developing sleepwalking are interrupted sleep, disturbance in falling for sleep, anxiety, lack of sleep, depression, overactive thyroid gland, and going to bed with a full bladder.

Common symptoms for it are getting out of bed at night and wandering around. Other symptoms are sitting still on the couch, difficulty in waking up, not responding to conversations, sleep talking, looking dazed, inappropriate behaviors, and bedwetting. During sleepwalking, the eyes of a person are open, and his face gives blank expressions.

There is a myth that we should not awaken the person from sleep because, in sleepwalking, the soul is detached from the body. But this is a misconception we should wake them up, so they do not harm themselves. First, they will be confused and disoriented, but later they will figure that out. A person gets injured by slipping down, losing balance, getting cuts, and hit to the wall, which can be a consequence of sleepwalking.

Unfortunately, there is no proper medication and treatment for sleepwalking. Healthy sleeping habits, use of anti-depressants, and avoiding day time nap is recommended. Sleep apnea is an underline cause, and before treating sleepwalking, you need to work on sleep apnea. There are some tips you can try at home. These include Proper exercise, meditation, playing the music that can relax you and relieve stress.

Create an easy and comfortable environment in the bedroom. The children should avoid using technology-based electronics before going to bed. You need to take medicines two hours before going to bed. Avoid eating large-sized meals and spicy food items at night. There can be alternatives therapies like yoga that keep you active and healthy.  As sleepwalking causes fatigue, so People suffering from sleepwalking should stay relaxed.

Sleepwalking is not only attributed to wandering around during sleep. People also perform a series of other strange activities like cooking, cleaning, screaming, running out of the house, and driving too long distances. These strange acts of consciousness make them vulnerable to accidents and put them at life risks.

The diagnosis of sleepwalking comprises of history and recall of onset. Precautionary measures like hiding the breakable objects, sharp-edged items, and locking the doors are advised to avoid any unpleasant situation.


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