The Dangers of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that occurs during deep sleep and results in performing behaviors, such as walking, while asleep. Sleepwalking is more common in children than adults and is also more likely to occur in those who are sleep deprived. Typically, sleepwalkers remain in a deep sleep throughout their episode, making them unlikely to remember sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking often involves more than just walking during sleep. Sleepwalking sufferers may simply sit up in bed, walk around the house, or even leave the house and potentially try to drive or partake in other activities that could be dangerous while asleep. It is a common belief that sleepwalkers should not be awakened however this is a misconception. It can be more dangerous to allow a sleepwalker to stay asleep than to wake them.

More than 8.4 million Americans sleep walk each year
More than 8.4 million Americans sleep walk each year

Sleepwalking is believed to occur in approximately one to fifteen percent of the general population. There are several common triggers that can cause sleepwalking including sleep deprivation, certain medications and illnesses, and the consumption of alcohol. Sleepwalking occurs more often in children, especially between the ages of three and seven. Sleepwalking is also more likely to occur in children that suffer from sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking generally takes place during deep sleep but can also occur during the lighter sleep stages. The most obvious symptom of sleepwalking is walking during deep sleep but other symptoms can include talking during sleep, not having memories of the event, difficulty being woken up while sleepwalking, screaming, and inappropriate behavior, such as urinating in strange places. Some sleepwalkers will also display violence and may attempt to attack the person trying to wake them up.

How to Treat Sleepwalking

There are no particular treatments for sleepwalking and in many cases taking simple steps to improve sleep hygiene can help. Anyone that is experiencing symptoms of sleepwalking should contact a doctor or sleep specialist to discuss the issue. While rare, sleepwalking can be an indication of an underlying illness. Doctors should also be made aware of any factors that may trigger sleepwalking, such as stress, medications, or fatigue. For some adults, sleepwalking can be treated through hypnosis. Several different medications have also proven helpful in reducing the occurrence of sleepwalking in some people. For children, sleepwalking is usually outgrown over time though if symptoms persist, it is important to speak with a doctor.

Dangers of Sleepwalking

Some sleepwalkers exhibit mild symptoms and will simply sit up in bed or start speaking while asleep. People who actually get up and walk around during a deep sleep can put themselves in danger. Sleepwalkers have been known to leave their houses and walk into roads, and some have even attempted to drive while sleeping. To reduce dangers, it is important to create a safe sleep environment. Breakable or sharp object should be removed from the area around the bed. To prevent falls, gates can be installed on stairways, and doors and windows can be locked to prevent sleepwalkers from exiting the home.

Sleepwalking can put you in dangerous situations
Sleepwalking can put you in dangerous situations

Learn More About Sleepwalking

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Logan Block

Logan Block

Logan is the content director of Sleepopolis, which means he not only reviews new mattresses every week, but also curates all the comparisons, best of pages, and video guides on the site. He takes a straightforward, honest approach to his reviews and endeavors to give viewers an objective look at each new product he tries out. Logan’s perfected his method over the course of personally testing over 100 different mattresses, so he’s not only able to discern the overall vibe of a specific bed, but to contextualize its feel within the bed-in-a-box market as a whole. Needless to say, his sleep knowledge runs deep, and he loves nothing more than sharing that knowledge with his readers. When he’s not hopping on a new bed or working with our editorial team to whip up an engaging sleep education guide, you can find him reading books on world history, walking his dog Pepper, or searching for the best cheeseburger in New York City.