Sleepwalking – a fairly common sleep disorder

November 27, 2008

in Sleeping Disorders, Sleepwalking

Are you looking for more information about sleepwalking? You can find what you are looking for here.

Overview

Sleepwalking is a type of a sleep disorder that is characterized by series of motor activities, such rising, walking, sitting, and among others, while the person is asleep. The affected person is not conscious during the event of sleepwalking and it may just go unnoticed.

Episodes of sleepwalking occur before the stage of rapid eye movement and are common early in the night. These episodes can last a few seconds and can go as long as 30 minutes or more.

Other terms for sleepwalking are somnambulism and noctambulism. It can affect people of any age but are more common in children 4-8 years old.

Causes

The common causes of sleepwalking are psychological factors such as stress and anxiety. It is hereditary in nature. It can also be caused by lack of sleep, fatigue, or adverse effects to some drugs and alcohol. Mental and neurologic disorders that can cause sleepwalking are seizures, REM behavior disorders, and organic brain syndrome.

Symptoms

The symptoms of sleepwalking may include the following:

* Episodes of rising from a sleep but is still asleep, which usually happens early in the night.

* The person may not respond if communicated, but he may utter words that don’t make any sense. The person’s eyes are open, the pupils are dilated, and there will only be blank stares. The person is very difficult to awaken.

* If the person is not awakened during the incident, he will just return to bed or sleep in another place.

* The person will not remember anything from the event.

* All brain functions return to normal once the person wakes up. If the person wakes up during a sleepwalking episode, then most likely he will have a short period of confusion.

When to get help

If the following occur, it is necessary to visit a doctor:

* If the episodes of sleepwalking become more frequent

* If dangerous activities are being performed while sleepwalking

* If the episodes of sleepwalking are accompanied by other symptoms aside from what is being outlined above

Treatment

Treatment may be unnecessary for sleepwalking as it will cease with time. You need to put away harmful objects in the house or in the person’s room to insure safety.

Lifestyle changes may be necessary such as avoiding the use of alcohol or any of the central nervous system depressants, preventing insomnia, and avoiding stress, anxiety, conflicts, and fatigue.

Short acting tranquilizers may be prescribed in some cases to help reduce episodes of sleepwalking.

Some physicians may recommend the use of polysomnography. It is a type of test that is used to study a person’s sleep cycle and to determine the type of treatment necessary. Stress management, relaxation techniques, hypnosis, psychotherapy, and biofeedback training are some alternatives used to treat sleepwalking.

If the condition still persists, the physician may prescribe medications such as anti-anxiety drugs like the diazepam and alprazolam.

Prognosis

The prognosis for sleepwalking is usually good. Most of the cases just subside over time. Children who experience sleepwalking may stop experiencing it by age 15 without any treatments.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

jhellie_baby November 28, 2008 at 4:59 am

People with sleepwalking disorders have low self esteem brought about by the condition. But it should not be a hindrance in seeking for medical help.

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skatss November 29, 2008 at 3:08 pm

There’s something about sleep walking that really scares me. I had one incident of it when I was a child. I got out of bed and turned the light on and I woke up when my parents asked me what was wrong. It really scared me and I still remember it. I haven’t walked in my sleep since – I think.

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Orrymain December 7, 2008 at 9:08 am

Hey, I know someone who not only sleep walked, but sleep talked and sleep functioned. I’ve had two hour phone conversations with her, and when we hang up, a few minutes later she calls me back, as if we hadn’t just talked. Sometimes I can tell and sometimes not. She’s seen a doctor for it, and he says she won’t hurt herself or anyone, but it’s pretty weird. She really does function entirely, but she is asleep.

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lilbit December 7, 2008 at 4:18 pm

My 18 year old sleep walks sometimes. I don`t know whent he last time was when he did it because he is in Job Corp right now in N.C. He usually does talk gibberish lol. This article has made me feel a little better about it though. I was scared that as he got older he would do something like try to drive or cook. When he was very young he just ran through the house saying “mommy mommy”. When ever he did it I would just tell him to go back to bed and he would. He also talks in his sleep but I can`t tell you what he says cause it`s not nice lol. He only would sleep walk once in awhile not every night. And like this article says , he does suffer from an anxiety disorder that runs in my family. I didn`t know that had anything to do with his sleep walking.

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Jen_13_13 December 8, 2008 at 2:38 am

I used to walk in my sleep when I was kid and I’m so glad I grew out of it. Unfortunately, not long after my husband and I began to live together I apparently punched him in my sleep – so he says anyway, but I’m tempted to believe him. I have absolutely no recollection of the incident Even though I try to play it off and joke about it, I still feel terrible about it…even though I didn’t do it on purpose. I mean, I wasn’t even concious.

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antkmom December 15, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I didn’t realize that sleepwalking in children can stop by the time they are a teenager. That is always good to know. I didn’t know much about sleepwalking, but did hear that you should never wake up someone sleepwalking. It is a scary thing to see.

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