Sleepwalking is also known as somnambulism or noctambulism.
Word somnambulism is from the Latin somnus (sleep) and ambulus (walking). It involves involuntary motor acts-particularly walking-during sleep.
· Studies indicates that sleepwalking is a ordinary phenomenon. It may be more prevalent among people who experience a lot of stress.
· Most of the time, sleepwalking happens in pubescence, that is age ten to fourteen years.
· It has been also noticed that there is a genetic factor shown in some families with a history of sleepwalk by family members.
· A very unique correlation between somnambulistic and hypnotic states has been observed for a long period of time, going back to 19 century when sleepwalking was considered as a possession of an evil force.
· A distinctive sleepwalking incident is usually short, rarely lasting more than 30 minutes. Strangely enough, sleepwalkers, as a rule, somehow successfully avoid hitting different objects while they walk. Also, sleepwalkers manage to return back to their bed without any accidents. Occasionally, they finish their somnabulistic accidents by lying on anything that looks similar to their own bed, such as a couch or a chesterfield.
When it happens?
Contrary to everyone’s expectation, sleepwalking happens only during Stage 4, the deepest levels of sleep, rather than during the other stages.
· What happens after is that people are awakening in the middle of their sleepwalking activity and experience confusion and quite surprise to what they see around.
· Being unable to reconstruct their dreams is considered to be a result of their confusion upon awakening.
· This phenomenon is also prevalent in majority of people when they cannot recall their dreams upon awakening.
· People of any age may be affected by sleepwalking.
· Sleepwalking happens when a person moves during slow wave of sleep (SWS)
· Research shows that up to 80% of children and young adults, as well as 50% infants, spent the night in SWS. As the person gets older, this percentage decreases.
· According to a study published in 1997 in Finland, sleepwalking in children is more frequently than in adults. 6.9% of girls and 5.7% of boys reported incidents of sleepwalking in comparison to 3.1% for women and 3.9% men.
Watch Video: How to Diagnose Sleep Disorders. Sleep Walking
There are a lot of misguided perceptions about what sleep walkers look like and how to help them. Learn more about sleep walking and how to help someone who sleep walks from our medical expert in this free video.
Sleepwalking induced by drugs
· The sleep medication Zolpidem (Ambien) has been linked with an elevated possibility to sleep walk, including the most dangerous situations, such as driving.
· Many human activities have been reported and/or claimed to have happened during sleepwalking, such as bathing, urinating, talking, dressing, eating, painting, whistling, singing, driving cars, dancing, engaging in sexual intercourse, or even committing murder.
· Opposite to a common believes, most cases of sleepwalking do not result in actual walking. Most of the time, as it has been confirmed in sleep clinics, sleepwalking started when people are fully awakened by something that disturbed their SWS.
· The person may sit up, even get up, look around and then immediately go back to sleep.
· Occasionally, people are awaken when they experience nightmare, then they wake up to simply stop that vision, and going back to sleep without even remembering anything. It is common to see sleepwalkers with their eyes wide open so they can navigate their environment, and not with their eyes closed and their arms extended, like zombies in many movies and cartoons.
· When you try to question someone who is sleepwalking, you may notice that the person’s eyes looking “empty” with no life any intelligence in their faces. They also answer your questions very slowly and usually unable to respond in an intelligible manner.
Hazards and safety
It is really advisable to lead sleepwalkers away from any dangerous situation and back to bed, especially when could do some harm to themselves or to others by going up or down the stairs or when holding any dangerous tool or located close to a potentially harmful objects such as a stove, fireplace, balcony, or a stepladder.
It has been also reported that sleepwalking victims were injured or even have died or as a result being in that sleep stage.
Note: sleepwalking should not be confused with psychosis.
Homicidal somnambulism has been a defense technique against charges of murder, sometimes successfully.
· There is another rare instance when a person may enter into the condition similar to sleepwalking being actually full awake and alert.
· An attack automatism usually begins without any warning.
· This condition is hard to detect, other than the claim by a person who has no memory of the event, as well as often been disoriented.
· The person may produce simple gestures or small movements, occasionally complex behaviors, such as driving, cooking, or performing any other activity as if fully alert. After the ends,