Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that causes people to get up and walk or perform other activities while sleeping. Symptoms of sleepwalking disorder ranges from simply sitting up and looking around, to walking around, to leaving and even driving long distances. It is a common misconception that a sleepwalker should not be awakened. It is not dangerous to wake them up, although it is common for the person to be confused or disoriented for a short period of time after being woken up.
There are several factors that may be involved in the development of sleepwalking that may include genetics, environment and medical conditions.
Sleepwalking occurs more frequently in identical twins and is 190 times more likely to occur if s first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has a history of sleepwalking.
Environmental factors that may cause a person to sleepwalk include: sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol intoxication and drugs such as sedatives, neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychosis), stimulants and antihistamines.
Medical conditions that have been linked to sleepwalking include: abnormal heart rhythms, fever, nighttime asthma, nighttime seizures and certain psychiatric disorders such a PTSD, panic attacks or multiple personality disorder.
Usually, no exams are tests are necessary for determining whether a person sleepwalks. However a medical evaluation may be completed to rule out any medical causes of sleepwalking.
A person who has a sleepwalking disorder can take these measures of treatment to help prevent any future instances:
– Get adequate sleep
– Meditate or do relaxation exercises
– Avoid any kind of stimuli before bed
Medications for treatment of this disorder may be necessary if there is a high possibility of injury, if the disorder is causing significant disruption to the family and daytime schedule or when all other measures have proven ineffective.