Causes, symptoms and treatment of sleepwalking
Sleepwalking is a form of sleep disorder, which occurs unexpectedly during sleep. Other forms of sleep disturbance include sleep paralysis, hypnagogia, and night terrors. Sleepwalking is a time-and-balance problem, which causes the brain to wake up from deep sleep and fall into the state of consciousness. Sleepwalking can last from a few minutes to an hour.
Causes of sleepwalking
The exact cause of sleepwalking is not well understood, although studies show that children are more prone to sleepwalking due to their growing brain.
The known causes of sleepwalking:
- The accompanying sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea.
- Fever or sickness
- Menstrual cycle or pregnancy
- Too much or too tired exercises
- Environmental stimulation
- Full bladder
- Sleeping in a strange environment
- The fear of small children
- Medicines like phenothiazine, chloral hydrate, zolpidem and lithium
Some conditions such as stroke, head injury, migraine headache or seizures can also lead to sleepwalking.
Symptoms of sleepwalking
Sleepwalking occurs early at night, usually one to two hours after sleep. It also less occurs during naps. A sleepwalking usually lasts for only a few minutes, but may take longer in some cases.
A sleepwalking might:
- Get up from bed and walk around
- Sit in bed and open their eyes
- Have signs of dull, lifeless eyes
- Do not respond or communicate with others
- Find trouble waking up
- Disorient or be confused for a while after waking up
- Do not remember the sleepwalking
- Get dysfunction during the day due to insomnia
- Find scary things while sleeping apart from sleepwalking
Sometimes, a sleepwalker will:
- Do routine activities, such as changing clothes, talking or eating
- Leave their home
- Behave abnormally, such as peeing in the closet
- Have unconscious love affair
- Be injured, by falling or jumping out of the window
- Be aggressive immediately after waking up or during sleepwalking
How to cure sleepwalking
If the victim is a child, the family should eliminate the cause of stress, insomnia, fatigue, and avoid violence, especially in the evening. Help the child sleep on time in an appropriate sleep environment. Children should sleep on the ground floor, close window when sleeping. If the child has a lot of sleepwalking in a short time, immediately take him or her to a neurologist and psychologist to be treated promptly, avoid the consequences later.
Cases of adulthood should be consulted by a psychiatrist, especially if they have frequent sleepwalking, hurt themselves or attack others.
In some cases, benzodiazepine tranquilizers, tricyclic antidepressants may be used. If the patient is suffering from other conditions such as epilepsy, psychosis, they need to be treated too.
By: James Paquin