Here Is Why You Might Be Sleepwalking
Some sleepwalkers exhibit mild symptoms and will simply sit up in bed or start speaking while asleep. People who actually get up and walk around during a deep sleep can put themselves in danger.
Dangers Of Sleepwalking: Symptoms
Sleepwalking can involve strange, inappropriate and even violent behaviors. Someone who is sleepwalking may:
- Get out of bed and walk around
- Sitting up in bed and repeating movements, such as rubbing eyes or tugging on pajamas
- Looking dazed (sleepwalkers' eyes are open but they do not see the same way they do when they are fully awake)
- Being clumsy
- Not responding when spoken to
- Being difficult to wake up
- Sleep talking
- Urinating in undesirable places
- Have a glazed, glassy-eyed expression
- Do routine daily actions
- Be difficult to wake up
- Be confused
- Quickly return to sleep
- Not remember what happened
- Have sleep terrors
In rare cases someone who is sleepwalking may:
- Leave the house
- Drive a car
- Engage in unusual behavior, such as urinating in a closet
- Engage in sexual activity without awareness
- Get injured
- Become violent
Causes Of Sleepwalking
Several things can lead to sleepwalking.
It can run in the family. Identical twins are more likely to sleepwalk. If you have a parent, brother, or sister who sleepwalks, you're 10 times more likely to do so than someone from a family with no sleepwalkers.
You might also have the disorder if you're:
- Lacking sleep or fatigued
- Having interrupted sleep or inefficient sleep (including from disorders like sleep apnea)
- Ill with a fever
- Certain medications
- Stressed, have anxiety
- Going to bed with a full bladder
- Noisy sleep environment/different sleep environment
- On a chaotic sleep schedule
- Taking drugs such as sedative-hypnotics (which promote relaxation or sleep), neuroleptics (used to treat psychosis), stimulants (which boost activity), and antihistamines (used to treat symptoms of allergy)
Medical conditions that have been linked to sleepwalking include:
- Heart rhythm problems
- Nighttime asthma
- Nighttime seizures
- Obstructive sleep apnea (a condition in which you briefly stop breathing during sleep)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Psychiatric disorders, for example, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, or dissociative states, such as multiple personality disorder
Risks And Dangers Of Sleepwalking
Some sleepwalkers exhibit mild symptoms and will simply sit up in bed or start speaking while asleep. People who actually get up and walk around during a deep sleep can put themselves in danger. Sleepwalkers have been known to leave their houses and walk into roads. Some have also even attempted to drive while sleeping. To reduce dangers, it is important to create a safe sleep environment. Breakable or sharp objects should be removed from the area around the bed. To prevent falls, gates can be installed on stairways, and doors and windows can be locked to prevent sleepwalkers from exiting the home.
There is no specific treatment for sleepwalking. In many cases simply improving your sleep hygiene may eliminate the problem. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist about ways to prevent injury during the episodes and about the possibility of underlying illness. Also, discuss with your doctor or pediatrician any factors, like fatigue, medication, or stress, that can trigger symptoms.
Treatment for sleepwalking in adults may include hypnosis. In fact, there are many cases in which sleepwalking patients have successfully treated their symptoms with hypnosis alone. Also, pharmacological therapies such as sedative-hypnotics or antidepressants have been helpful in reducing the incidence of sleepwalking in some people.
Sleepwalking is common in children and is usually outgrown over time, especially as the amount of deep sleep decreases. If symptoms persist through adolescence, consult your doctor or psychiatrist.
How To Stop Sleepwalking
If you or your partner or child sleepwalk, here are some steps to take:
- Start by focusing on your sleep habits and creating a routine for going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day.
- Make sure to have a "power-down hour" before hitting the pillow. Find ways to unwind from the day. Try a warm bath and light reading.
- Create a safe environment, especially for sleepwalking children. Remove sharp objects, lock doors and windows, and install gates on stairways.
- A door alarm can often be helpful.
- Ask your doctor about other options if the problem persists.
Also read: What To Do When You Are Struggling To Sleep