Sleep Disorders, Sleep Remedies & Insomnia Relief

     

Sleepwalking and Sleepwalkers

Sleepwalking can be very disconcerting. Imagine going to sleep at night, burrowing under the covers, but waking up in a totally different place? Or, perhaps you wake up in your own bed, but family members tell tales of you walking and talking to them, sometimes even completing different tasks and you have no recollection of the events. Sounds spooky, doesn’t it? Approximately ten percent of the population has bouts of sleepwalking, many of them children. Also known as somnambulism, sleepwalking often occurs during the deep sleep phase. The common belief that you should not wake sleepwalkers is dangerous. In fact, if you do not wake them, they have a great potential of hurting themselves or the people around them.

Some people are unsure about the symptoms of sleepwalking and whether they or a loved one could be suffering from it. Sleepwalkers often appear awake. If you are unsure if a loved one is actually sleepwalking, look into their eyes. If they stare absently and don’t see you or track your movements with their eyes, chances are that they are indeed sleepwalking. Another symptom of sleepwalking is weird or uncharacteristic behaviors.

Talking or mumbling is common in sleepwalkers as is disorientation or confusion if awakened suddenly. Aggressive behavior toward a person trying to waken a sleepwalker is another symptom and also plays into that myth about it being dangerous to awaken sleepwalkers. It is especially important to wake up a sleepwalker if they are showing signs of wanting to go outside or even perform certain tasks that can prove harmful if asleep like cooking or using power tools.

We all have had various notions about what sleepwalking is, but what causes it? The biggest factor is usually lack of sleep. When deprived of sleep, a person’s consciousness is affected. Extreme fatigue can also play a factor in the cause. Stress, anxiety and worrying about something can kick off episodes of sleepwalking. Various medications and even imbibing alcohol are issues that play into a sleepwalking event. Sleeping disorders and other health conditions can contribute to this event. For instance, kids with asthma and sleep apnea are more prone to sleepwalking than others because their conditions are not always conducive to a good night’s sleep and rest.

Diagnosis can be fairly simple for sleepwalking, especially if other people witness this behavior. Other family members are usually the ones corroborating stories to the fact that sleepwalking is happening. If you live alone, diagnosis is harder to determine, so sometimes a sleep study is performed. In addition, your doctor may perform some tests to find if any medical conditions may be contributing to your little unconscious nighttime forays.

Treatment for sleepwalking comes in many forms and depends on what is determined as the primary cause. One action you can take is to get more rest and sleep. Another thing you can do is clear harmful obstacles from the sleepwalker’s path in order to avoid injury. Door chains placed higher than their head is recommended to avoid wandering off outside, especially if a child is the sleepwalker. Removing stove knobs, putting sharp objects like scissors and knives away and childproofing the stairway with a baby gate might help keep your sleepwalking child out of harm’s way.

For some people, sleepwalking can be draining over the course of time. When sleepwalking interferes in your daily, “awake” life, a doctor might prescribe tranquilizers to keep you from getting up in your sleep. Hypnosis is also another option that works on some people. With the tranquilizer and hypnosis treatments, your doctor must have ruled out other biological causes before resorting to those measures.

Keeping the same routine every night helps your body relax, degree by degree. Indulging in a little aromatherapy or a leisurely bath helps with relaxation too. Going to bed at the same time every night, nixing stimulants like cigarettes and caffeine and even reading a book or story to your child all play a part in a harmonious bed time ritual. Since sleepwalking is the end result of not getting enough sleep or rest, finding a bed time routine that is consistent just might be helpful in avoiding another late night, unknowing reconnaissance mission. Sleepwalking, for the most part, is not serious and usually goes away on its own. If it doesn’t however, it is important that you see a medical professional about your sleepwalking problem.

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