Do you sleepwalk or know someone that does? If you do then you might have seen them appearing lifeless, like a zombie, shuffling around with their eyes closed and left wondering ‘what is sleep walking?’
It is quite difficult to understand how people are able to sleep while doing something else. But it is actually quite a common symptom of a sleep disorder.
Sleep-walking is one of the more common sleep disorders classified under parasomnias. It is characterized by complex body behaviour during slow-wave sleep and is most often evident during the first third of the night, or during other times of increased slow-wave activity.
Also known as somnambulism, the condition is more prevalent among children, and becomes less common as they become teenagers and then stops at reaching adulthood. Unfortunately, for some, the condition may last for most of their lifetime.
Sleep-walking is not limited to sleeping while walking. Some episodes include sitting up, fumbling, picking at bed clothes and mumbling. But usually sleepwalkers simply stand up and walk around quietly and aimlessly.
These episodes usually last for a couple of minutes and may occur three to four nights per week. After an episode of sleepwalking, the person is usually confused and remembers very little of what happened, if anything at all. Clearly, even they can’t understand how it’s possible to sleep while walking around.
What causes sleepwalking and can it be treated?
Research suggests that a variety of factors contribute to sleepwalking. These include genetic, developmental, organic and psychological factors. Furthermore, somnambulism can be triggered by fever, medication with some drugs, stress and major life events.
Considering that different factors contribute and trigger sleepwalking, it should not be dealt with alone. It’s recommended that someone suffering from sleepwalking should consult a doctor to discover whether there is an underlying cause. The doctor will not only help a sleepwalker identify the actual cause of the problem; they may also be able to give advice about improving sleep habits, having a good night’s sleep and how to stop sleepwalking.
Depending on the doctor’s assessment, the patient may also be recommended to seek additional advice from a psychologist or sleep specialist and discover how to sleep properly without sleep walking.