Dealing with Sleepwalking

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Dealing with Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking happens more commonly than you might expect. About 15% of children aged 4 to 12 will sleepwalk during their childhood. A small number, around 4%, continue this behavior into adulthood. Sleepwalking is often shrouded in mystery and can be unsettling to witness, especially because a sleepwalkers’ actions are so hard to predict.  Let’s take some time to peel back the curtain on sleepwalking, and see what exactly happens and what can be done to stop it.

Why Does it happen?

Scientifically speaking, sleepwalk occurs when normal physiological processes occur at irregular times. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why the brain issues certain commands during stages of sleep, but we do know that sleepwalking only occurs during deep sleep before REM sleep starts. This seems to indicate why children are more likely to sleepwalk, as a greater percentage of their sleep is deep stage 2 or 3 sleep. There is also research to support the claim that sleepwalk is genetic. Identical twins, for example, tend to both sleepwalk or not sleepwalk at all. Other environmental factors which can lead to sleepwalking include being sleep deprived, fever, taking sedative drugs and alcohol intoxication.

How do you stop it?

When putting an end to sleepwalking, the first thing to realize is that it is NOT dangerous to wake a sleepwalker. It is much more dangerous to let a sleepwalker continue to put him or herself into dangerous situations. While sleepwalking, people have been known to move furniture, jump through windows, or even drive cars! Luckily, there are many strategies to minimize the risks associated with sleepwalking and to decrease the chance of sleepwalking in the first place. First, monitor your environment before bed. For example, if you have a child who sleepwalks, make sure to remove all toys and potential tripping hazards from the floor before bedtime. Avoid bunked beds, as this can be especially dangerous for sleepwalking children. Second, prepare your mind before bedtime by refraining from audio or visual stimulation. The stimulation right before bedtime will increase the chance of sleepwalking, while meditation or relaxation exercises help to prevent sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking fun facts

  • Boys are more likely to sleepwalk than girls.
  • Sleepwalking most commonly starts about an hour and a half into sleep.
  • The sleepwalker cannot remember anything that happened while they were sleepwalking.
  • Lee Hadwin, a nurse by day, has a rare talent! only when he is sleepwalking; He has drawn and sketched hundreds of world-class pieces of art. He is so talented in his sleep major galleries have asked for samples of his art.
  • In 2005, a sleepwalking 44-year-old woman sent out an email to her friends inviting them to a party she would not remember at all the next day! “Dinner and drinks 4 pm” it read, “Bring wine and caviar only”

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