There are millions of people all over the world who are plagued by the problem of sleep walking, or somnambulism. This is a type of sleep disorder that causes people to walk or perform activities that they usually do during the day while they asleep.
Sometimes, people who sleepwalk also talk in their sleep, and the talk is nonsensical, often sounding like the person is actually saying something, but nothing understandable is coming out.
The majority of people who sleepwalk are children between the ages of four and 12 years of age. In fact, about 15% of all children in this age group are known to sleepwalk. There are cases of older sleepwalkers, about 10% of all adult cases actually begin during the teen years.
When Does Sleepwalking Occur?
There are four stages of sleep, sleepwalking tends to occur mainly during the first two sleep stages known as light sleep. When a person walks in their sleep, they do not remember their nocturnal activities. Some of the activities that are performed by sleepwalkers include getting dressed or undressed, using the bathroom or even rearranging furniture.
There are many causes of sleepwalking:
- Physiological factors include associated medical conditions such as acid reflux disease or other factors such as menstruation or pregnancy
- Genetic factors: studies show that sleepwalking or somnambulism is ten times more likely to occur if a first generation relative has a history of sleepwalking
- Environmental factors such as chaotic sleep schedules, sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol intoxication and fatigue
- Psychological factors includes various psychiatric disorders such as multiple personality disorders and panic attacks
- Medical factors such as seizures or mental disorders
Each of these factors, either by themselves or in combination, can cause a person to sleepwalk.
When people sleepwalk, it may seem as if they are awake, but they are actually asleep. Sleepwalking symptoms include:
- Performing various activities such as dressing or undressing while they are sleeping
- Getting disoriented and confused when they awake from their sleep
- Not remembering the sleep walking when they wake up
- Random sleep talking while sleeping
- A blank look on the person’s face
- Eyes open during sleep
- Walking during sleep
Is It Dangerous to Wake a Sleepwalker?
According to myth, it is dangerous to awaken a sleepwalker. The truth is, it is not dangerous at all, and in many cases, can prevent injuries, which can often occur when a sleepwalker falls or trips.
If you or someone you know is a sleepwalker, there are many things that can be done to help, including eliminating stress or environmental causes that will get the sleepwalker to resume a normal sleep pattern.
Essential further reading: