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Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disorder where the person can perform necessary activities like walking, eating, or even driving all while being asleep. While a sleepwalker may appear conscious while sleepwalking, they usually don’t remember anything about the episode and don’t respond when spoken to, sometimes they utter some words which are usually gibberish. A sleepwalking experience happens within the first two hours of sleep and could last up to 20 minutes.

Causes of Sleeping Walking

Sleepwalking is common in children and very rare in adults. Adults can experience occasionally sleepwalking as a result of stress or fever. Regular sleepwalking in an adult could be as a result of an underlying disease. Factors that may trigger sleepwalking include

Genetics: You are likely to sleepwalk if a close relative like parents did, a recent study revealed people with relatives who sleepwalk are ten times more likely to sleepwalk than those who don’t.

Drunkenness: Alcohol can trigger sleepwalking in some people.

Stress: You might sleepwalk if you are unable to rid the body of accumulated stress.

Fever: Some people experience sleepwalking when they have a fever.

Inadequate Sleep: Not having sufficient sleep could cause sleepwalking.

Sleeping Disorder: Some people who suffer other types of sleeping disorder suffer sleepwalking also. Types of sleep disorder that may trigger sleepwalking include night terror and sleep apnea.

Full Bladder: You may experience sleepwalking if you go to bed with a full bladder.

Unconducive Sleeping Environment: A stuffy or creepy sleeping environment can cause sleepwalking.

Restless Leg Syndrome: The constant urge to move legs may cause sleepwalking.

Nocturnal Seizures: Any type of seizure, especially the one at night, can trigger sleepwalking.

Nightmare Asthma: The coughing and breathlessness that comes with asthma can cause sleepwalking.

Drugs: Certain types of drugs, especially sedative drugs, can cause sleepwalking.

Psychiatric Disorder: Sleepwalking could be triggered by psychiatric disorders like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Studies have shown a connection between GERD and sleeping disorders.

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What are the Symptoms?

There are a few signs to look out for when checking for sleepwalking. This includes the following:

Sleep Talking: Somnambulists combine talking with walking sometimes, but the talking is characterized by unintelligent and meaningless phrases.

Sitting up in Bed: Sleepwalkers can sit up while asleep with eyes open but won’t communicate or remember the event.

Walk Around: It is common for a sleepwalker to stand up from sleep and walk around the house. This is, by far the most common symptom.

Difficult to Wake: A common symptom of sleepwalking is the difficulty to wake the sleeper to consciousness.

Bruxism: Some sleepwalkers grind their teeth while asleep, bruxism could be a sign of sleepwalking.

No Memory: If allowed to return to sleep after sleepwalking episode, sleepwalkers usually don’t remember a thing.

Screaming: When sleepwalking is combined with a night terror, screams could be one of the symptoms.

Urinating in Strange Places: An obvious sign of sleepwalking is when the person urinates in strange places like the closet or through the window.

Physical Attack: A sleepwalker can sometimes attack someone nearby usually someone trying to stop or wake them.

No Communication: A sleepwalker will not talk to you nor reply whatever you say.

Leave the House: A sleepwalker might not be contented with walking around the house, they may leave the house completely and walk some distance.

Drive a Car: Sleepwalkers can drive a car while asleep if there’s one around to stop them.

 Possible Solutions

Once diagnosed, sleepwalking can be cured by making lifestyle, and environmental changes and don’t usually need medication. Sleepwalking solutions include

Adequate Sleep: Insomnia is one of the causes of sleepwalking, getting adequate night rest will significantly reduce the chances of sleepwalking.

Conducive Sleeping Environment: Do not sleep in an environment where you don’t feel very comfortable, conducive sleeping environment improves sleep and reduces the risk of sleepwalking.

Safe Sleeping Environment: While sleepwalking itself is not dangerous, sharp, and dangerous objects in and around the sleeping environment can make it a fatal experience. Always rid the room and surroundings of potentially dangerous objects before going to bed.

Meditate: A major cause of sleepwalking is stress, meditation can help reduce stress, which in turn improves the sleeping experience.

Exercise: Adequate physical exercise improves sleeping quality.

Yoga: Just like meditation, yoga reduces stress and improves sleep.

Lock Doors and Windows: A sleepwalker doesn’t recognize exits or the dangers, a sleepwalker could walk through a window mistaking it for a door.

Don’t Drink: Alcohol is one of the causes of sleepwalking, reducing the volume of consumption, and avoiding alcohol towards bedtime will help with treating sleepwalking.

Stop Drug: Talk to your doctor if your sedative drug could be the cause for your sleepwalking and seek alternative medication.


When Should I See Doctor?

Sleepwalking is rare in adults and goes away with basic conducive measures and lifestyle changes. However, you may need to seek medical assistance if your sleepwalking won’t go away or when any of the following happens:

Injury: When you suffer injury as a result of sleepwalking, it might be time to reach out to your doctor.

Sleep Disturbance: Sleepwalking is a big issue if it won’t allow you to get adequate night rest. Complain to your doctor if it interferes with your sleep and makes your nights not pleasurable.

Affects Functionality in the Day: If you can perform your job adequately because of sleepwalking, then you need to see a doctor.

Repeated Episodes: Talk to your doctor if your sleepwalking experience is becoming frequent.

Sleepwalking is a sleeping disorder that can be triggered by genetic, environmental, psychiatric, and medical causes. It is common in children and rare in adults. Factors that could trigger sleepwalking include stress, drug reaction, sleep apnea, and unconducive environment. Although harmless on its own, sleepwalking could be dangerous when life-threatening actions like driving or walking out of the house are taken. Sleepwalking heals with changes like adequate sleep, exercise, and meditation. However, if symptoms persist or injuries are suffered, it might be best to report to a doctor for medical solutions.

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