Are you a sleepwalker?

“You were sleepwalking again last night,”… rix 모던 고딕 b 폰트 다운로드. that’s the conversation at the breakfast table this morning. “Really, that’s strange,” you say as you sip your coffee, “because I don’t remember anything!”

Fortunately, sleepwalking is rarely a sign of anything serious. It’s definitely more common in children and tends to disappear on its own in the teenage years. But children aren’t the only ones sleepwalking – about 4% of adults do as well!

What can happen when people sleepwalk?

If you are living with a sleepwalker, these are some behaviours you may have seen or heard:

  • their eyes are usually open, although they don’t see the same way they do when they’re awake
  • they look at people and objects with “glassy eyes” – often not recognising them and “looking through” them
  • they may think they are in a different room or different place altogether
  • they may sit up startled in bed and look around
  • there may be sleep talking
  • if you talk, they may respond partially or say things that don’t make sense
  • they can often move themselves well around familiar objects
  • there may be screaming, if associated with a night terror
  • there may be difficulty arousing the sleepwalker during the event
  • if woken whilst sleepwalking, the person will often be confused or will not be able to remember the events
  • the following morning, there will usually be little or no memory of the event
  • in rarer cases, a sleepwalker may leave the house, get injured, drive a car, become violent or engage in other unusual behaviour

Why do some people sleepwalk?

While the cause of sleepwalking is unknown, sleepwalking and night terrors tend to run in families. A person is, on average, 10 times more likely to sleepwalk if one of his/her parents or siblings also sleepwalks. It has also been linked to sleep deprivation and certain medical conditions:

  • anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress
  • alcohol
  • drug abuse
  • side effects of certain medication (stimulants, hypnotics/sedatives, tranquilisers, anti-histamines, neuroleptics)
  • sleep apnoea
  • conditions affecting sleep quality (restless legs syndrome, reflux of stomach acid, night-time asthma, heart rhythm disturbances)
  • infection with a fever (especially in children)
  • neurological causes (stroke, head injury, encephalitis)
  • overactive thyroid
Read  Are night terrors the same as nightmares?

When should a sleepwalker see a doctor?

While people may go through a period of sleepwalking, it’s wise to talk to a doctor when sleepwalking episodes continue into adulthood or start in adulthood, if the episodes increase or there is a risk of injury to the sleepwalker or to others.

Dealing with a sleepwalker

Having a sleepwalker in your home can be a frightening experience if you aren’t used to it! What should you do in this situation? The first rule is to make sure the sleepwalker is safe – if possible, gently turn the sleepwalker around and guide him/her safely back to bed. Here are some other vital tips:

  • if the sleepwalker resists you, stay nearby and assist him/her to avoid any dangerous objects or situations
  • do not physically restrain them unless there is imminent danger
  • try not to shout or startle the person
  • install a safety gate at the top of the stairs
  • make sure that windows and doors are locked
  • do not use the top bunk bed
  • inform your babysitter beforehand, if your child sleepwalks

Is there anything you can do to try to prevent sleepwalking?

Since sleepwalking is often triggered by sleep deprivation, it’s important to get enough sleep and get into a regular bedtime routine. In the case of children, try waking a child who sleepwalks 15-30 minutes before the usual time it happens, as this alters the sleep cycle.  Make sure the bedroom is dark, peaceful and free of distractions such as a TV, computer and cell phones. Adults may possibly benefit from medication, cognitive behaviour therapy or hypnotherapy if sleepwalking episodes are frequent or associated with risk of injury.