Children's health Health adults Mental Disorders

Sleepwalking (Somnambulism)


Sleepwalking (Somnambulism): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Sleepwalking (somnambulism) is a fairly widespread phenomenon. Around the world, it affects about 2.5% of the population.

If the episodes of sleepwalking occur regularly, you should consult a doctor. It is important to remember that sleepwalking may be a manifestation of serious diseases such as epilepsy. If the sleepwalking human is random, then the medical care he required.

Symptoms of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalkers usually during sleep get out of bed and begin to walk. They can make some purposeful action and something to say. It may seem that the person is in the waking state, however, it is not. If you look closely, you will notice some of the characteristics that in the first place. Movements are slow and fluid. Although the eyes of sleepwalkers are open, but they did not perceive or hear. Often they think that they are not at home and in some other place. Waking a sleepwalker is almost impossible. On average, these phenomena may be observed a couple of times a week.

Not all sleepwalkers walk through the apartment. Some of them can just sit or stand in bed. Others, on the contrary, tend to go out, can open the door lock and even start the car.

Usually, bouts of sleepwalking are short, they last no more than an hour per night. Most often, the sleepwalker he returns to bed and continues to sleep. In the morning, these people do not remember anything about their night adventures.

Causes of Sleepwalking

Many people believe that sleepwalking is a rare mental illness. In fact, it is not. Sleepwalking is a type of nervous disorder. It should be noted that the most prone to this disorder children and adolescents. Among adults, sleepwalkers are much less – 1 per 1000 of the population.

This problem affects only susceptible individuals with certain characteristics of the brain. They have a tendency to the formation of foci of excitation.

Best such a person to consult a doctor and undergo a special examination. It will surely include the electroencephalogram. Most likely, the diagnosis will be the presence of foci of epileptic readiness in the temporal lobe. In this case, the sleepwalking may be a symptom of epilepsy. These people externally, the impression is calm and restrained. But, in fact, they are very emotional.

Can a man walk in the sleep and when he has a fever or is he just chronically not getting enough sleep. Sleepwalking in adults may be caused by strong stress. In children and adolescents sleepwalking is quite common. According to scientific studies, they suffer about 15% of children. The child is mentally healthy. Most often it goes with age.

There are bouts of sleepwalking usually in those moments when a child worries about something. Constant anxiety leads to sleep disorders and sleepwalking. The brain of a child is not easy to withstand the rapid influx of all kinds of information and impressions. At night, the brain never rests but continues to process information. However, the mind of the child is thus disconnected.

In addition, it is proved that sleepwalking may be hereditary. If both parents are prone to sleepwalking, then with very high probability we can assume him and the child. It is not necessary that child will stand up and walk. Appears sleepwalking and unit movements of arms and legs. Or the child may be trying to explain something to parents, something to solicit.

Other risk factors for the development of sleepwalking in children are:

  • genetic predisposition (it is known that if one of the parents the child is suffering or suffered from sleepwalking, the likelihood of developing symptoms of this disorder in the child is about 40%, and if both increases to 65%);
  • High-temperature period of the disease;
  • headache;
  • epilepsy (somnambulism may accompany epilepsy, being one of its symptoms, and to be a predictor of this disease, developing even several years before its appearance).

Adult somnambulism develops much less frequently and, as a rule, is a secondary character. The main causes of sleepwalking in adults are:

  • chronic lack of sleep;
  • acute and chronic stress;
  • headache;
  • neoplastic disease of the brain;
  • neurosis;
  • panic attacks;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • dementia;
  • epilepsy;
  • traumatic brain injuries
  • aneurysms of cerebral vessels;
  • heart disorders (severe arrhythmia);
  • obstructive sleep apnea syndrome;
  • pregnancy and period of menstruation in women;
  • on the night asthma attacks;
  • diabetes mellitus (nocturnal hypoglycemia, or lower blood sugar below normal at night);
  • dense dinner before going to sleep;
  • poor nutrition, containing in its composition a lot of unrefined products, leading to deficiency of the trace mineral magnesium in the body;
  • the intake of alcohol and narcotic substances;
  • certain medications (particularly antipsychotic drugs, sedatives and tranquilizers).

Dangerous of Sleepwalking

By itself, the lunacy of the danger to humans is not. However, the sleepwalkers in their nightly adventures can hurt you or even others. About 25% of sleepwalkers cause various damages. Sometimes people in this condition can even fall out of the window. Some sleepwalkers go on the roof or facing the street, which is also unsafe.

As for harm to others, then in science there are cases when a person is in this state, even commit murder. It is clear that upon waking he did not remember his actions could not explain.

Need to know what to Wake the person during somnambulism impossible. It can be very scary and cause serious psychological trauma.

Treatment of Sleepwalking

First of all, relatives of such a person must take care to protect it from various possible injuries. It is recommended for bedroom Windows to put a solid lattice. Not on the floor to keep electrical wires and glass objects. Otherwise, the sleepwalker can seriously cripple, stumbled on them.

In the case of severe forms of sleepwalking, the person suffering from them can even be tied to the bed. You need to take care that the sleepwalker was not able to open the door and exit the house. Some people put in front of the bed of a sleepwalker a basin of water, once in he immediately wakes up. You can put the wet cloth.

All these measures will help to protect it from negative effects.

For children, the specialists can recommend an unscheduled revival. This technique involves interruption of the sleep cycle to prevent sleepwalking. Sometimes, you may need special medication.

Very useful before sleeping to relax, listening to soothing music. You must follow the strict schedule of sleep and try not to break it. Need to fall asleep in complete silence. Before going to sleep need to empty the bladder.

To Wake a sleepwalker is impossible, but to help him to get to bed needed. This should be done slowly and quietly, so it does not scare.

Myths about Sleepwalking

Myth 1. Somnambulism is a mental disease

Somnambulism is not a disease but a symptom. For example, as a cough with pneumonia. And the symptom of various diseases — from epilepsy to mild neurosis

Myth 2. Sleepwalkers in a dream can’t hurt you: if you fall out of windows, not even a scratch

The sleepwalkers during sleep, resting only the cortex and subcortex continues to work. But to calculate what cells don’t sleep — impossible. If those areas that are responsible for pain, active when falling or blow the sleepwalker is going to feel it. If they are in a state of sleep — sleepwalker not only not suffer, even he will not feel pain. In short, it all depends on what parts of the brain work.

Myth 3. The sleepwalking suffer only children, it goes with age

Somnambulism suffers both children and adults. Only children are more prone to bouts of sleepwalking due to his fragile receptivity. How often: came to the child from practice, and his mom straight to bed drives. Of course, the kid in the excited state will not be able to sleep. And even when sleep will come, subcortex can stay awake.

Myth 4. Somnambulism is transmitted genetically

We learn from the experience of the parents, for the most part, subconsciously. And if mom or dad suffered from somnambulism (inorganic nature), then the child will also be able to choose a way to relieve stress. If somnambulism early onset of epilepsy, the next generation very high probability of developing this disease. But this does not mean that all descendants will be walking in a dream.

Myth 5. People don’t remember anything of their night actions

The man is a sleepwalker really can not remember anything from night actions or remember the events as a dream. In this case, reality is mixed with fantasy and get mixed memories. In children and adolescents, amnesia is more common, perhaps for physiological reasons. Among adults the most part remember what they did while sleepwalking. Some even remember what they were thinking and what emotions were experienced.

Myth 6. Often cases of somnambulism occur during the full moon

Cases may occur in any phase of the moon, and are associated rather with the real-life events. Rather, with inner feelings of these events.

Myth 7. Somnambule often are women

In Russian scientific literature there is an opinion. But practice shows, that men go in sleep no more often than women

Myth 8. Sleepwalking is not seen in the daytime

Sleepwalking is manifested in the phase of slow sleep. The older we get, the fewer hours leads to a deep sleep. And this leads to frequent bouts of sleepwalking. Because the duration of daytime sleep is too small for immersion in NREM sleep, the attacks occur mostly at night. But if you spend on a day sleep 6-8 hours, sleepwalking may occur in the daytime. 

Myth 9. During somnambulism all the senses are active: he hears, sees, perceives, discerns the smells and even taste

During this period the person is in a state of altered consciousness similar to hypnotic. It is manifested by decreased or absence of skin sensitivity, increased excitability of certain sensory organs and susceptibility of the subject to suggestion.

Why Do You Sleepwalk?


Reviewed by the QSota Medical Advisory Board