What comes to your mind first when you think about sleep? Maybe it’s a cozy bed, a lazy morning, and the pain of that sadness in the idea that you’re not getting as much as you want.
But for so-called sleep walkers, sleep is associated with completely different emotions. These include mysteries, adventures, and sometimes even dangers.
Sleepwalking has been a fascinating phenomenon for centuries. Equally represented in classical art (Macbeth in Shakespeare or Razon Nambra in Bellini), pop culture, and thrilling news stories, it’s a fascinating theme for both doctors and laymen.
But why do people fall asleep? And what can you do about it?
By its simplest definition, sleepwalking or sleepwalking is “an abnormal state of sleep in which motor behavior (such as walking) takes place.” It affects 6.9% of the world’s population, but it is endemic among children and adults suffer much less often.
The act of sleepwalking occurs in the non-rem (deep) stage of sleep, about two hours after falling asleep. Most affected people get up, walk around, and talk during sleepwalking episodes. Nonetheless, there are reports of people taking more complex actions, such as leaving home or driving.
This condition is still relatively mysterious, but in most cases it is known to be due to the following causes:
- Lack of rest
- Stress and anxiety
- Substance abuse
- Breathing problems such as sleep apnea
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Parkinson’s disease
- Restless lower limb syndrome
- Drugs like ambien
But wait. Not only that. Patients rarely remember nighttime behavior, but often feel the consequences of sleep deprivation the next day. Most often, they will feel tired, have difficulty concentrating, and suffer from bad mood.
Some studies suggest that sleepwalking in adulthood can cause health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive decline. For this reason, it needs to be understood and treated, especially if it occurs regularly after childhood.
There are many misconceptions about sleepwalking, which we see as a bizarre event and relatively rare after puberty.
Perhaps the most common is that you should never wake up a sleepwalker as it can harm your sleepwalker.
Now, when trying to help in the middle of the night, some sleepwalkers may be upset or resist, but this is a myth. If your loved ones are sleepwalkers and they are doing something that could harm them or others, you should always try to keep them safe.
It may be the easiest solution to cause them, but it can cause disorientation. So it will be your best bet to gently guide you back to bed.
Another common misconception about the condition is that it is harmless. And yes, in most cases this is true. However, some patients may suffer from more serious symptoms. These may require more complex precautions.
If you or your family members tend to behave more complexly during sleep, some safety rituals need to be performed.
- Be sure to lock all doors and windows.
- Hide the key and keep dangerous items out of reach.
- Finally, we will do our best to eliminate the risk of tripping and make the space as safe as possible.
Thus, you would have done your best to prevent any accident.
Unfortunately, there is no 100% effective treatment for sleepwalking yet. Instead, the goal of most somnambulists is to address the root cause and expect the sleep pattern to return to normal as a result. And the most obvious starting point is to scrutinize your sleep habits and patterns.
For most people, the cause of sleepwalking is malaise or breathing problems. In such cases, you can reduce the likelihood of repeated episodes by taking steps to fix these issues. Positive sleep hygiene has multiple benefits to your overall health. Not only is it an effective self-care tactic, it may also be the only cure needed for sleepwalking.
Stress can also increase the likelihood of sleepwalking activity. Therefore, coping with stress levels during the day and finding effective ways to relax before bed can reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking. Overall, it’s not a bad idea to do some light exercise during the day, take a warm bath before bedtime, or read a book. All of these actions may help calm your body and mind and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
Of course, symptoms can be caused by medication, illness, or substance abuse. In this case, consult your healthcare professional. They adjust the dose of the drug, prescribe the drug, and introduce treatments such as anticipatory awakening. These help prevent unwanted nighttime activities and the possibility of serious injury.
As you can imagine, sleepwalking is a complex event. The medical community is still trying to figure out all the causes and the best treatments. Nevertheless, the consensus is that it tends to be a harmless habit.
If you are a parent of sleepwalking children, start by paying more attention to their sleep habits and bedtime routines. Make small changes. Control your energy and stress levels and get enough sleep during the night. This may be all the remedies they need.
However, if the condition persists into adulthood, it is not a bad idea to consult a medical professional. In general, doctors have better ways to diagnose and treat sleepwalking. They detect the root cause and prescribe the appropriate treatment. In this way, they will be able to keep you and your loved ones safe from unwanted night adventures.
Do you like this article? Subscribe to the feed!