Sleepwalking – Overview

Sleepwalking has been in the medical literature even before Hippocrates and its description has remained the same even though time has passed. It is know as the complex behavior such as walking that will be done during sleep. Sometimes this action may be associated also to nonsensical talk.

The person will have their eyes open most commonly and have a characteristic look as like not noticing anything or any person. This kind of situation is most likely to appear in young adolescence or during middle childhood and will get resolved by late adolescence. But there are cases in which it would precede this time line, as statistics showing that almost 10% of the sleepwalkers will develop this kind of sleep disorder from their youth.

Also there must be underlined the fact that a clear link has been made between genetics and sleepwalking. A normal sleeping pattern will have five stages. The first four stages will be descried as having a non rapid movement of the eye NREM sleep. The rapid movement of the eye will be linked to the dreaming sensation that that person will have and at the very same time elimination or development of specific hormones that are essential for metabolism and growth. Each cycle will last for a maximum of one hundred minutes and after reaching the fifth stage, the cycle will repeat itself.

Sleepwalking will occur during the first two stages and during this time, a person will have no memory of his or her behavior.

Sleepwalking is also known as somnambulism and it can involve sometimes more actions than just walking. Some people can have different types of behavior during a sleepwalk from harmless actions like just sitting up, to some potentially dangerous actions like wandering outside or leading to some inappropriate behavior for example urinating in the wrong places.

The tendency of episodes can vary from a few seconds up to thirty minutes of actions. Adults will rarely suffer from such a sleep disorder, being most commonly found in kids and in teens and if you or your partner are or were sleepwalkers, most likely your child will be also. There are several causes that can lead up to sleepwalking and they include: irregular sleep schedules’, lack of sleep or fatigue, illness or fever, certain medications or stress (sleepwalking is clearly linked to an emotional or underlying medical problem).

In trying to treat such a sleep disorder, most doctors would recommend a chat with the patient in establishing if some stress issues could be involved. Depending on the gravity of the sleepwalking and the behavior during it, some people suggest that keeping that person under observation or in some drastic cases the patient should be tied up in order not to harm himself or herself or other people that might be in the way without knowing.

There is no tendency of violence in such sleep disorders although there have been several cases that resulted in being life threatening.

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