Everything You Need To Know About Sleep Walking

Overview | How to Know? | Dangerous | Is it common? | How to wake a sleepwalking person? | Causes | Symptoms | Risks factors | Diagnosis | Treatment | Tips |

What Do We Mean By Sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking, as its name suggests, is a condition in which a person begins to walk and perform some activities while asleep. This sleepwalking condition is more likely to found in children or teenagers, rather than adults. If an adult sleepwalks, then it may possible that his/her sleepwalking habit is prolonged, and may start in his/her childhood or teen days. Sleepwalking is formally known as somnambulism.

Although, sleepwalking is not considered a problematic or dangerous condition generally. But, it may be related to any sleep disorders or other health conditions. Secondly, a person while sleepwalking is not aware of his /her surroundings, this can lead to an injury or severe accident.

Let’s know more about sleepwalking with its treatment. But before that, here are some answers to those questions that you might be thinking about.

What Medical Science Say About Sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking is a sleep disturbance that occurs in the deepest part of your non – rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Most probably, a person begins to sleepwalk within 1 to 2 hours of falling asleep.

A person can perform many days–to–day activities, such as walking, roaming, eating, etc. – all while sleeping. The person’s eyes may open but he or she is still in a deep state of sleep.

The American Psychiatric Association refuses to consider sleepwalking as a disorder unless and until it can affect your daily lifestyle and ability to perform daily tasks.

But some others consider sleepwalking as parasomnias, which is a border between sleep and wakefulness.

How To Know If Someone Is Sleepwalking Or Not?

If someone is walking while sleeping, then they would not respond to anyone, even if you stand in front of them, they just not respond. Sleepwalkers always have a distant look in their eyes, as if they are staring at something unconsciously while sleepwalking.

Some activities sleepwalkers can perform while sleepwalking, according to experts:

  • Leaving the house unconsciously
  • Talking
  • Eating
  • Preparing food
  • Urinating in places other than toilets.

Is Sleepwalking Dangerous?

Although it is generally not considered a dangerous thing, it can be. Because sometimes, asleep Walker may try to do such actions which can cause injury to them or others. For example, sleepwalkers attempt to drive a car, or climb a wall to jump, or may even start roaming on the road; all such activities can not only harm them but can also be life-threatening to others.

In a study including 100 people, it is found that about 57.9 percent of sleepwalkers harmed themselves or others while the irony is, sleepwalkers, don’t even remember anything after become conscious.

Is Sleepwalking Common?

Yes, it very common. Sleepwalking is quite common in children than sleepwalking, this habit of sleepwalking goes away automatically. If not, you can consider medical diagnosis and treatment.

Fact: Sleepwalking is very common in India, with more than 10 million cases per year.

How To Awake A Sleepwalking Person?

Mostly, people try to give a severe shake and call the name of a sleepwalking person quite loudly. Well, this is quite the wrong way to do so. All you need to do is just speak softly with the sleep Walker and try to navigate them and bring them back to their place or bed. Because if you give them a severe shake or shout at them, then it can negatively impact them and make them confuse, frighten, or angry.

Causes Of Sleepwalking:

  • Inherited
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Unproductive sleep
  • Fever
  • Migraine
  • Going to sleep with a full bladder
  • Breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Asthma
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Brain injury
  • Certain medications
  • Noises or touches
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Change in sleep environment or sleep pattern

Symptoms Of Sleepwalking:

Sleepwalking episodes may last for some minutes but can even last longer. A person begins to sleepwalking after one or two hours of falling asleep. Some symptoms of sleepwalking include —

  • People start walking
  • Sit up on the bed having his/her eyes open
  • Have a glazed expression
  • Having a blank look on their faces
  • No response to anything happening around
  • Be difficult to wake up during episodes
  • Being confused or unaware of what is happening around, after being awake
  • Don’t remember anything about the episode after being awake
  • Feeling the loss of concentration and sleep deprivation
  • Have problems in functioning the daily life tasks
  • Experiencing sleep terrors during sleepwalking
  • Sexsomnia ( engaging in sexual activity without even being aware of it)

Risks Factors And Complications:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • A sleepwalking person can hurt themselves or others.
  • Prolonged sleep disruptions
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Behavior issues
  • Disturbs other’s sleep

Diagnosis:

Since sleepwalking is experienced by children mostly, hence parents are the first ones to know about their child’s sleepwalking. The most unfavorable thing in the diagnosis of sleepwalking is — the patient doesn’t even remember anything, not even any symptoms.

To diagnose sleepwalking, your doctor can conduct a sleep study. In this, your doctor will check your blood oxygen levels, brain waves, breathing, etc. while you are asleep.

If your sleepwalking is not severe, you can easily control it by managing your stress levels and improving your daily life habits, including sleep habits.

But if it is in the severe stage, your doctor can prescribe you some medications to reduce your episodes of sleepwalking.

Antidepressants at help, if the cause of your sleepwalking is stress and depression.

Usually, children don’t need any treatment because their sleepwalking goes away automatically, as time passes.

Treatment Of Sleepwalking:

Treatment of sleepwalking depends on several factors including —

  • How frequent the episodes are
  • Patient’s age
  • Level of danger an episode has etc.

According to the basis of diagnosis, your healthcare provider will prepare a treatment plan accordingly. I most cases, sleepwalking requires no particular treatment plan. As it goes away with the increase in one’s age. And in adults, sleepwalking is mostly related to their stress, if they learn to manage their stress levels; their episodes of sleepwalking will decrease or even vanish automatically.

Some Useful Tips To Make Your Sleepwalking Experience Less Threatening, Are As Follows:

  • Keep such articles away from sleepwalkers, which can be used by them to harm themselves not others
  • Remove tripping hazards from the floor
  • Install lights with motion sensors, if possible
  • You can use bed alarms, which will ring if the lying person goes off the bed
  • If your sleepwalking is due to some medication, then tell your health care provider to replace or change the medication.
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Treat underlying causes of your sleepwalking
  • Anticipated awakening
  • Improve sleep hygiene
  • Go with cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medications etc.
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