Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism is a sleep disorder that is categorised with the parasomnia family. Sleepwalkers do activities that they would normally do in walking life while being asleep such as take a shower, make food, walk the dog. Sleep walking effects roughly around 10% of the general population. On occasion many people who experience sleepwalking will mumble or talk with their eyes wide open. Their eyes are described as glossy and somewhat scary because they look right through you. Sleep walking is most prevalent during adolescence stages and during puberty. Up to 20% of kids will experience sleepwalking.
Why Do People Sleepwalk?
There is a whole list of factors on why some people sleepwalk. Sleep walking occurs when some areas of your brain are fast asleep and other parts are active. The parts of your brain that’s active when you sleepwalk are the ones that control your walking and speech. Sleep walking usually occurs in NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement) this is when your brain waves are not that busy and slowed down. Sleepwalking all depends on your environmental, genetic, medical and physiological factors.
If your parents experience sleep walking it’s a greater possibility that the gene was passed down to you. Also identical twins are 10 times more likely to sleepwalk if a first degree relative has the same problem as well.
Depending on some sleepwalkers environmental situations it causes them to sleep walk. Below are some examples of environmental conditions that cause sleepwalking in the night.
- High amounts of stress
- Large consumption of alcohol
- Sleep Deprivation
- Taking certain types of drugs such as sedatives, antihistamines and stimulants can increase the chances of sleepwalking
It has been known that serious medical conditions increase the chance to sleepwalk at night. Below here are some of the reasons why you might sleepwalk due to medical factors.
- High fever
- People who experience night-time convulsions
- Magnesium deficiency
If you suffer from some psychological conditions are at greater risk to… sleepwalk during the middle of the night. If you sleepwalk and have medical or psychological problems please contact your physician.
- Psychiatric disorders such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Multiple personality disorder
- Hereditary might run in your family
- Women who are pregnant and during menstruation
- Increased depth of slow wave sleep
What do sleepwalkers do when asleep?
Sleepwalking can be very scary but interesting at the same time. People have been known to drive to work and have conversations with people in there walking life and not but fully aware of it. There has been some cases that people have reported murdering somebody in their sleep. These are some of things that sleepwalkers may do or experience whilst they’re asleep:
- Taking baths and showers
- Brushing teeth putting on gel
- Call people on the phone
- Making food or sandwich for work
- Moving things around the house ex. moving tables, pictures
- Walking and feeding pets
- Driving there car or motorbike
- Dressing up for the day
- Attacking people in or outside the house
- Walking around the neighbourhood
- Watering the lawn
- Going inside other people’s houses
How to tell if someone is sleepwalking?
- Odd movements. May get up and seek out of a window
- They will get up and walk quietly around the room or house maybe talking or mumbling
- May seem clumsy and fumble around objects
- Eyes wide open with a glassy look to them
- Most people can’t tell when one is sleepwalking
- Adolescence can snap out of a sleepwalking faster than adults
- They would repeat behaviours over and over
- Having a temper tantrum, throwing objects
Ways to stop sleepwalking
- Taking a full 8 hours of sleep every night with no interruptions
- Meditate or take yoga before you go to bed to relax the mind
- Stay away from caffeine or alcohol for the time being
- Just for safety hide all sharp objects and lock all windows in your room.
When do you seek medical help for sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking for the most part is harmless and natural part of life. People who experience sleepwalking will tend to have a lack of sleep or is under heavy amounts of stress. Once stress levels taper off you will notice that it disappears.
Though sleepwalking can become dangerous when the person starts to become violent. There has been many reported cases where family or even neighbours have been attacked. Any harm to others or to oneself you might want to contact a sleep consultant.