Sleepwalking, also called somnambulism, is a behavior that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other behaviors while asleep.
According to Harriet Hiscock, a consultant pediatrician with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, “when someone is sleepwalking, they’re stuck between deep sleep and light sleep.”
Somnambulism is classified as a non-REM parasomnia: a group of sleep disorders that include:
- confused arousals;
- sleep-related eating disorders;
- night terrors;
Sleepwalking tends to occur within 1 or two hours of falling asleep and may last on average around 10 min. It usually occurs when you are in the NREM ((non-rapid eye movement) sleep.
Kids are more likely to sleepwalk than adults, with the peak prevalence of sleepwalking occurring at age 10.
According to The Lancet Neurology review, sleepwalking affects:
- 12.7 percent of 12-year-olds;
- 13.5 percent of 10-year-olds;
- 11 percent of 7- to 8-year-olds;
- 3 percent of toddlers between 2.5 and 4 years old.
Children usually outgrow the disorder by the age of 12. An estimated 30 percent of adults say they have had an episode of sleepwalking at least once in their lives.
Typical Sleepwalking Behaviors
In addition to their meandering midnight strolls, sleepwalkers may also:
- engage in sexual activity without awareness, sometimes with strangers;
- fall down the stairs;
- do strange or uncharacteristic things;
- sit up in bed and perform repeated motions, such as – rub their eyes;
- become violent without awareness, occasionally with a spouse;
- talk in their sleep;
- jumping out of a window;
- urinating in undesignated areas;
- leaving the house;
- driving a car;
- going about mundane activities, such as – eating or getting dressed.
Note – due to the fact that sleepwalkers may cause damage to their environments or injure themselves, sleepwalking is one of the more dangerous sleep disorders.
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Causes of sleepwalking include the following:
- fever in children;
- sleep deprivation;
- noise or light;
- overproduction of thyroid hormones;
- alcohol use and abuse;
- migraine headaches;
- the intake of some medications;
- head injury;
- sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings;
- obstructive sleep apnea;
- chronic emotional stress;
- bloated stomach;
- the premenstrual period.
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The most obvious sign of sleepwalking is getting out of bed and walking around. However, it can involve a range of other behaviors, such as:
- urinating in inappropriate places;
- difficult to wake;
- inappropriate responses to people in the room;
- gazing with open eyes with a blank expression;
- sitting up in bed and making repeated fine motor movements.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
It is recommended to consult your healthcare provider if the sleepwalking episodes:
- continue into your child’s teen years;
- start for the first time as an adult;
- result in daytime symptoms of excessive sleepiness;
- cause significant sleep disruption to the person who sleepwalks or household members;
- lead to injury to the person who sleepwalks or dangerous behavior;
- occurs more than 2 times a week.
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Spiritual Meaning of Sleepwalking (Somnambulism)
A sleepwalker walks around being asleep without being aware of it. This symbolizes the fact that you are experiencing a very strong inner tension, sometimes unconscious. You also try to run away from a situation that worries you very much. Therefore, you “express” this way in order to let the tension out of your system.
You often experience a state of being “outside of your body.” When this happens, your astral body drives your physical body to get “out of your body.”
That is why you can walk with your eyes closed and still “see” the obstacles when you are sleepwalking, in other words, you are using the sight of your astral body.
To improve this condition in your life, you should agree to communicate more with your parents, your partner, a friend, or simply write all this. This way you can regain your inner calm and you can adjust your sleep.
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Medication and other medical treatments for sleepwalking are usually unnecessary. The following measures are typically recommended:
- stay on the first floor when sleeping at a hotel or when visiting others;
- install a baby gate at the top of the steps to keep your child from falling down;
- remove any sharp objects or hazardous materials from the room;
- hang onto the car keys;
- keep the floor clear of harmful objects;
- keep windows and doors locked and bolted;
- lock the windows and cover them with large drapes;
- attach a bell to the bedroom door.
Images credit – Shutterstock
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References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072019/ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080402105332.htm https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0164769