Imagine how disconcerting it would be if you went to sleep at night, burrowed under the quilt and then woke up
in a totally different place. Or, perhaps you wake up in your own bed, but family members tell tales of you sleep
walking and talking to them, sometimes even completing different tasks that you have no recollection of. Sounds
spooky but for approximately ten percent of the population, many of them children, that is the reality of
Also known as somnambulism, sleepwalking often occurs during the deep sleep phase. The common belief that you
should not wake a sleepwalker is a dangerous myth. In fact, if you do not wake them, they have a great potential of
hurting themselves or the people around them.
Sleep Walking Symptoms
Some people are unsure about the symptoms of sleepwalking and whether they or a loved one could actually be
suffering from it. The reasoning behind this is that sleep walkers often appear to be awake. If you are unsure if a
loved one is actually sleepwalking, just look into their eyes. If they stare straight through you or do not track
your movements with their eyes, chances are that they are indeed sleepwalking.
Other weird and uncharacteristic behaviors associated with sleepwalking include talking or mumbling and
disorientation or confusion if awakened suddenly. Aggressive behavior toward a person trying to waken a sleepwalker
is another symptom and also plays into that myth about it being dangerous to awaken sleep walkers. It is especially
important to wake up a sleepwalker if they are showing signs of wanting to go outside or even perform certain tasks
that can prove harmful if asleep like cooking or using power tools.
Cause of Sleepwalking
We have all had various ideas and notions about exactly what sleepwalking is, but what actually causes it? The
biggest factor is usually down to a lack of sleep because when deprived of sleep, a persons consciousness is
Extreme fatigue can also play a factor in the cause of sleepwalking as can stress, anxiety and worry. Various
medications and even imbibing alcohol are issues that play into a sleepwalking event. Sleeping disorders and other
health conditions can also contribute to sleepwalking. For example, children with asthma or sleep apnea are more
prone to sleepwalking than others because their conditions are not always conducive to a good nights sleep and
Diagnosis can be fairly simple for sleepwalking, especially if other people witness this behavior. Other family
members are usually the ones corroborating stories to the fact that sleepwalking is happening. If you live alone,
diagnosis is harder to determine, so sometimes a sleep study is performed. In addition, your doctor may perform
some tests to find if any underlying medical conditions may be contributing to your unconscious night time
Treatment for sleepwalking comes in many forms and depends on what is determined to be the primary cause. One
action you can take on your own is to get more rest and sleep.
Another thing you can do is clear harmful obstacles from the sleep walkers path in order to avoid any injuries.
Door chains placed higher than the sleep walkers head is recommended in order to prevent them wandering off
outside, especially if the sleepwalker is a child. Removing stove knobs, putting sharp objects like scissors and
knives away and child proofing the stairway with a baby gate might may also help to keep your sleepwalking child
out of harms way.
For some people, sleepwalking can become very draining over the course of time. When sleepwalking interferes
with your daily awake life, a doctor might prescribe tranquilizers to keep you from getting up in your sleep.
Hypnosis is also another option that works on some people. With the tranquilizer and hypnosis treatments, your
doctor must have ruled out other biological causes before resorting to those measures.
Keeping the same routine every night helps your body relax, degree by degree. Indulging in a little aromatherapy
or a leisurely bath helps with relaxation too. Going to bed at the same time every night and bypassing stimulants
such as cigarettes and caffeine all help. Even reading a book or story to your child all play a part in a
harmonious bed time ritual.
Since sleepwalking is the end result of not getting enough sleep or rest, finding a bed time routine that is
consistent just might be helpful in avoiding another late night reconnaissance mission.
Sleepwalking, for the most part, is not serious and usually goes away on its own. However, if the problem does
not go away it is important that you see a medical professional about your sleep walking.