What is Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking — also known as somnambulism — is a sleep disorder that causes people to get up and walk while sleeping. Episodes of sleepwalking typically occur when a person is in the deep stages of sleep. The sleepwalker is unable to respond during the event and does not remember sleep walking. In some cases, sleepwalking is associated with incoherent talking. Sleepwalking occurs most commonly in childhood but can last into adulthood. Genetics, medications, medical conditions and other sleep disorders are factors that may contribute to or cause sleepwalking.
What are the symptoms of Sleepwalking?
- Episodes of sleepwalking can range from quiet walking about the room to agitated running or attempts to "escape."
- Typically, the eyes are open with a glassy, staring appearance as the person quietly roams the house.
- On questioning, responses are slow or absent.
- If the person is returned to bed without awakening, they usually do not remember the event.
How is Sleepwalking diagnosed?
In making a diagnosis of sleepwalking, your doctor will ask you about your sleeping habits, how much sleep you get at night, if you wake up at night, and whether you fall asleep during the day. Your doctor will also want to know if you are having any emotional problems or if you are taking any medications.
Your doctor may also order some tests, including a sleep test called polysomnography (PSG or NPSG).
How is Sleepwalking treated?
If you are diagnosed with sleepwalking, your doctor may suggest changes to your sleep routines or your sleep environment, suggest changes to your current medications or prescribe medications. Typically the underlying cause for sleepwalking is another sleep disorder (such as Sleep Apnea), and treating the underlying disorder addresses the sleepwalking disorder.