The Causes Of Sleepwalking Disorders
In the past, it was believed that people that sleepwalk were acting out either their dreams or secret desires. However, sleepwalking which is also known as somnambulism is in fact a disorder linked to arousal, which involves the brain triggering the body to rouse while the person is in a very deep sleep.
The Basics Of Sleepwalking
To put it simply, this disorder causes a person to actually rise out of their bed and then walk around while they are still asleep. Some people may creep quietly around the house, while others may run around urgently, walk out the front door or even climb out of windows. The eyes are glassy, yet open and if you were to ask them a question they may not respond at all or respond very slowly.
Sleepwalking usually occurs during the 1st third in a night, when the person enters the deepest part of slumber which is known as NREM sleep. During this stage of a sleep cycle, the brainwaves slow down, and the gray matter is inactive and quiet. Yet the body at this stage of sleep is active and is usually when a person will toss and turn more.
Children are more likely between the ages of 4 to 8 to sleepwalk and the ones that suffer from nightmares or night terrors are usually more prone to sleepwalking. Children will typically outgrow this disorder before they are 12. Sleepwalking is not only a disorder that affects the young. In fact, 4% of American adults in the U.S, suffer from the condition.
To date, there are no clear-cut reasons as to why some people sleepwalk. Yet there are a number of factors that can have an influence over its occurrence:
Similar to many other diseases and disorders, sleepwalking runs in families. For example, identical twins are more likely to sleepwalk, and are 10-times more likely to do so, if one of their first-degree relatives did.
- Environmental Triggers
Not enough sleep happens to be one of the more common catalysts when it comes to sleepwalking. Yet a sleep schedule that is inconsistent can also increase the risks along with alcohol and stress.
- Medical Conditions
There are also a number of ailments that can make people more susceptible to sleepwalking. This includes panic attacks, irregular heartbeats, PSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), asthma, sleep apnea and reflux. Sleepwalking is also linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s along with seizure disorders.
Ways To Avoid Sleepwalking
It becomes important to consult with a physician when you experience sleepwalking, because you will more than likely do it again. Many people do not need treatment when it comes to sleepwalking, yet a doctor will usually want to dismiss any other type of medical condition like seizures. If you are older, sleepwalking can be linked to neurocognitive disorders like dementia. Obtaining treatment for other types of sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea can also prevent sleepwalking.
It is also important to let your physician know about any medications that you are taking and whether sleepwalking is associated with other people in your family. Doctors will not usually prescribe medications for sleepwalking, yet some might prescribe short-acting tranquilizers.
Sleepwalking or parasomnia as it is officially known has been the stuff of myths and urban legends for generations. Until recently the condition was not even recognized as one that merited serious academic study. However this has now changed and sleepwalking has been recognized as a bona fide condition – and one that requires even further study. So widespread is the condition that it is estimated that 40% of young children have sleepwalked – and up to 3% of adults continue to do so.
Here are six facts about the condition that may surprise you.
- Waking a Sleepwalker.
There is a widespread belief that waking a sleepwalker may have disastrous consequences. That is simply not true. However what is even less widely known is that the task of waking a sleepwalker can be surprisingly difficult – sometimes the best approach is to gently shepherd them back to bed where in most cases they will resume their unbroken night’s rest.
- You Could be a Sleepwalker.
Those who do sleepwalk very rarely remember the experience. The parts of the brain that responsible for processing information and walking are ‘awake’ – but those that are responsible for logical decision making and memory are not.