Sleepwalking | Somnambulism | Child Sleepwalking


Sleepwalking is also called as somnambulism. Sleepwalking occurs when you get up from bed and walk around even though you are still asleep. It can also involve a series of other complex actions.

Before walking, you might sit up in bed and look around in a puzzled manner. At other times, individuals may bolt from the bed and walk or run away. They may be hysterical to escape from a threat that they dreamed or imagined.

You might talk or shout as you are walking. Your eyes are usually open and have a puzzled; “glassy” look to them. You might begin doing routine daily actions that are not normally done at night.

More often, it involves actions that are rough, strange, or in the wrong place. This might include urinating in a trashcan, moving furniture around, or climbing out of a window. It can also result in aggressive and violent behavior.

Sleepwalking is more common in children and affects both boys and girls. It can begin as soon as a child is able to walk. The rate of it in children is as high as 17%. It peaks by the time they are eight to 12 years old.

The child with calm sleepwalking may quietly walk toward a light or to the parents’ bedroom. At times, kids will walk to a window or door, or even go outside. This can put them at great risk. Children who sleepwalk will often talk in their sleep and have sleep terrors. Most children with it also had confusional arousals at a younger age.

Sleepwalking most often occurs in the first third of a night’s sleep or during other long sleep periods. This is during the slow-wave cycle of sleep. Every now and then, it can occur during a daytime nap. Episodes can occur rarely, or very often.

They can even happen multiple times a night for a few nights in a row. The main risk is injury to self, the bed partner, or others in the same home. It can also disrupt the bed partner’s sleep.

In rare cases, a patient will get in the car and drive away. He or she might even go for a very long distance. Indecent exposure and other sexual behaviors may also occur. Adults might dream or hallucinate while they sleepwalk. Some people will eat while they walk.

It can be very hard to wake a sleepwalker up. When you do wake up, you can be very puzzled. This is because you normally have no memory of the event. Adults sometimes recollect bits and pieces of what took place.

Less often, they will have a very clear memory of all that happened. At times, you might even attack the person who wakes you. Men, especially, are often violent during these episodes.

The walking can also suddenly end by itself. This might leave the individual in a very awkward place. At other times, the individual may return to bed while still asleep. He or she will have never awakened during the event.

For some, the events of sleepwalking occur less than once per month and do not result in harm to the patient or others. Others experience events more than once per month, but not in the night, and therefore do not result in harm to the patient or others.

In its most severe form, the episodes occur almost nightly or are associated with physical injury. The sleepwalker might feel awkwardness, shame, guilt, anxiety and confusion when they are told about their sleepwalking behavior.

Amnesia is another threat that usually follows a sleepwalking episode. Sleepwalkers usually remember little to nothing. But there are times sleepwalkers have a unclear memory of an episode where they think they were being burned, buried alive, caught under a roof or trying to escape a dangerous situation.

Sleepwalking primarily occurs in young children and is more common in boys than girls. Sleepwalking may begin at any time in the adult life, even when someone is in their seventies. Up to 4% of adults sleepwalk.

In adults, men are much more likely to be aggressive when they sleepwalk. Sleepwalking can be treated with drugs, but hypnosis has also proven to be successful on a short-term basis.

An important component in dealing with this disorder is to make the environment as safe as possible, such as having sleepwalker's bedroom on the ground floor, removing harmful items from the house, locking windows and placing an alarm on the bedroom door.

It is very important that if the sleepwalker exits the house, or is having frequent episodes and injuries are occurring then it is time to seek professional help. In a few instances, sleepwalking can result in cruel behavior. It is very important that a chronic sleepwalker seek professional help.  


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