Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking: Causes and Treatment

Scientific title of sleepwalking is somnambulism, which means walking and talking during sleep. Some people believe that sleepwalking is connected with the influence of moon on humans, however, this assumption is not proven.

Sleepwalking is not rare problem, especially among children and teenagers. However, it may be a symptom of more serious problem, such as epilepsy. So if fits of sleepwalking are regular, it's better to consult with a doctor.

How do Sleepwalkers Behave?

Usually sleepwalkers get up from bed and walk across the room. They can fulfill some purposeful actions and even talk. One can think that they are awake, however, their movements are slow and more smooth than usual if you look closer. Though sleepwalkers' eyes are opened, they don't see and don't comprehend anything. Sometimes they imagine they are not at home, but somewhere else. It's very hard to awaken a sleepwalker, moreover, doctors say that you shouldn't wake them up, because it can frighten them or cause a serious psychological trauma.

Not all sleepwalkers walk in the room, they can just sit or stand on a bed. Others, on the contrary, can open the door, go outside and even start up a car. Usually the fits of somnambulism are short, around half an hour, after that a sleepwalker usually turns back to bed and continues to sleep. In the morning such people don't remember anything about their night walks.

Causes of Sleepwalking

Many people think that somnambulism is a certain kind of psychic disorder, however, it's not true. Sleepwalking is considered to be a nervous disorder, which is more characteristic for children and teenagers. By the way, this problem affects only sensitive people, those who have certain brain peculiarities.

A person can also walk in sleep when suffering from fever or bad sleep. Somnambulism in adults can be caused by stresses. Children and teenagers more commonly face this problem (around 15%, according to scientists), while being totally mentally healthy. Usually the problem disappears with the years.

Fits of sleepwalking happen when children are too excited, or stressed, or he/she received too much information, etc. During sleep brain doesn't rest, it continues to analyze the information, while consciousness is off.

In addition, sleepwalking is proved to be a hereditary problem. If both parents were inclined to sleepwalking in childhood, there is a big probability that a child will walk in sleep as well.

How can You Help a Sleepwalker

Sometimes sleepwalkers during their walks can harm themselves, so your task is to make their walks as safe as possible. For that:

  •  remove sharp and potentially dangerous things from the sleepwalker's room;
  • if you live in a house, it's better for a sleepwalker to sleep on the first floor;
  • close doors and windows;
  • cover the windows with heavy curtains;
  • place a handbell on the door.

For those who suffer from sleepwalking psychiatrists advise to use methods of relaxation and meditation.

Physical exercises are also helpful, because they relieve you from stress and help to better relax.

• Meet the Author • Luca Bonatelli


I am a psychiatrist and a medical blogger. I am interested in medical education and especially in psychiatry. I like writing useful articles about health in general. My favorite articles are How to become a Psychiatrist and Psychiatrist Salary


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