Zombies, Frankenstein, Dracula…characters from horror movies and television that can cause young and old alike to have nightmares. But what if you woke up in the middle of the night to witness your loved one, walking around the bedroom with his or her hands outstretched like a zombie? Could it be a ready-made scary movie happening in the comfort of your own home? Not so fast, your family member might not be trying to fill you with fear. Instead, he or she might be suffering from sleepwalking, which is also known as somnambulism.
An individual who sleepwalks is actually classified as having a behavioral disorder. During the deep stages of sleep, this condition begins. As a sleepwalker, most people do walk but can also eat, drink, cook or even try to drive a car. Due to the fact that instances of sleepwalking originate in the deepest levels of sleep, the sufferer stays asleep and in the morning will not recall the episode at all. At this point, it is important to dispel a common myth. You should wake up a sleepwalker in the middle of an incident.
Sleepwalking: Who is at Risk?
It is currently estimated that between 1 and 15 percent of the population experience episodes of sleepwalking with the onset starting in childhood when the child is between 3 and 7 years of age. However, sleepwalking is common in adults as well. It is believed that the condition is not initiated by any deep-seated psychological problem but instead can be induced by illness, medication, alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation and be inherited. In fact, a study conducted at Stanford University discovered that 30 percent of the test group had a family member who was characterized as a sleepwalker.
Although sleepwalking most often occurs in deep stages of sleep, incidents can happen within lighter stages when someone first falls asleep. When sleepwalking occurs during lighter sleep, the person is more easily aroused and more difficult in the deeper stages. Of course, the majority of sufferers will walk around during an episode, even speak and their eyes can be open and glassy but they are still sound asleep.
Unfortunately, treatment is not one size fits all. For some fortunate individuals, lifestyle modifications, such as following good sleep hygiene practices, can help. In others, specifically adults, hypnosis has worked as a treatment option. But in all cases, it is important to keep the sleepwalker safe. Research published in SLEEP discovered that 58 percent of the test participants had demonstrated violent behavior including injuries that required medical attention. This same study also showed that individuals with depression were 3.5 times more likely to sleep walk.
If you believe that you might suffer from sleepwalking or sleep apnea, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation.