Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that's also known as somnambulism. This disorder occurs when a person is actually asleep yet functions as if he were awake. Activities can include getting dressed, walking, eating and even talking. Sleepwalkers have no idea what they are doing and, after waking up, have no recollection of what they have done.
In the movies, you might have seen sleepwalkers wandering around with both arms outstretched. This is a Hollywood misinterpretation. In reality, sleepwalkers appear normal, have their eyes open, display blank facial expressions, move around as if awake and have even been known to move furniture. A sleepwalker might return to an original sleeping place, or he might lie down somewhere else and continue to slumber.
What causes sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking usually occurs during the first hours of sleep, typically between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., or during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep phase. The causes of these nightly escapades can be any of the following:
When sleepwalking is triggered by alcohol, drugs or a lack of sleep, treatment solutions can be as easy as changing your lifestyle and removing the trigger.
Other treatments include:
For children, there is no specific treatment; they tend to grow out of sleepwalking over time. Keeping them on regular sleeping cycles should eliminate the condition.
Sleepwalkers seldom hurt themselves, but if you are worried about someone's safety, take precautions.
Weird sleepwalking facts
This sleeping disorder has other facts that might surprise you:
Awakening a sleepwalker
You may awaken a sleepwalker without putting her in danger if you use common sense. Should you find someone in the kitchen eating a sandwich, for example, waking him is perfectly safe. If you were to find someone out on the roof, however, a better option is to gently persuade her to come back inside to avoid the shock of waking up in a dangerous situation.
Sleepwalking has triggers, and when you discover what they are, you can make changes to break the cycle.