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Sleepwalking

Definition


Disease: Sleepwalking Sleepwalking
Category: Psychiatric diseases
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Disease Definition:

It is also known as somnambulism. Sleepwalking means getting up and walking around while asleep. In most cases, sleepwalking is a random event that doesn't signal any serious problems and doesn't require any treatment.

Sleepwalking is most common in children between the ages of 8 and 12. However, it could also occur at any age and may involve some dangerous and unusual behaviors, such as urinating in closets or trash cans or climbing out a window.

In case someone has a family member who sleepwalks, protecting them from the injuries of sleepwalking is quite important.

Work Group:


Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

Sleepwalking is categorized as a parasomnia, which is an undesirable experience or behavior during sleep. A sleepwalker may:

 

  • Do routine activities, such as getting dressed, making a snack, and in some cases, driving a car.
  • Scream, especially if the sleepwalker is also experiencing night terrors
  • Sit up in bed and open his/her eyes
  • Be difficult to arouse during an episode
  • Roam around the house, turn lights on and off or open and close doors.
  • Have a glazed, glassy-eyed expression
  • Speak or move in a clumsy manner


Usually, early in the night, one or two hours after falling asleep and while the person is in deep sleep is when sleepwalking occurs. The person who is sleepwalking will not remember the episode in the morning. Sleepwalking doesn't occur during naps.
Sleepwalking is most common in children, and when the amount of deep sleep they get decreases, they outgrow this behavior in their teens. Episodes of sleepwalking may occur rarely or often, for instance, they may occur multiple times a night for a few consecutive nights.
In most cases, occasional episodes of sleepwalking aren't something to worry about. Parents can mention it during a routine physical exam. However, they should talk to the child's doctor in case the sleepwalking episodes:

 

  • Are accompanied by other signs and symptoms
  • Become more frequent
  • Continue into the child's teens
  • Lead to dangerous behavior or injury

Causes:

Some of the factors that may contribute to sleepwalking may be:

 

  • Stress
  • Fever
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Zolpidem  or other medications
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings


In some cases, underlying conditions that affect sleep may be associated with sleepwalking, such as:

 

  • Migraine headaches
  • Seizure disorders
  • Premenstrual period
  • Stroke
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Brain swelling or head injuries
  • Sleep-disordered breathing. These are a group of disorders that are characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep.Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common one of these disorders.


Sometimes, sleepwalking episodes may also be triggered by the use of alcohol, illicit drugs or certain medications, such as antibiotics, sleeping pills, antihistamines and sedatives.
In case a person has one parent who has a history of sleepwalking, that person’s risk will be increased. However, if both of the parents have a history of sleepwalking, the risk will increase even more because sleepwalking seems to run in families.

Complications

Complications:

Even though sleepwalking itself isn't a concern, however, sleepwalkers may easily hurt themselves, particularly if they drive a car or wander outdoors during their episode. Additionally, excessive daytime sleepiness and possible school or behavior issues may result from prolonged sleep disruption. Usually, sleepwalkers disturb the sleep of other people as well.

Treatments:

Sleepwalking doesn't necessarily require any treatments. In case a person notices that someone in their household is sleepwalking, they should gently lead them back to bed. Despite the fact that it can be disruptive, but waking a sleepwalker is not dangerous. When awakened, the sleepwalker may be disoriented and confused. Men might attack their awakeners.
Hypnosis may be a treatment option for adults who sleepwalk. In some rare cases, a drug may be the cause of sleepwalking, in which case the condition could be treated by changing the medication.
Someone may be recommended medications for sleepwalking in case it poses a risk of serious injury or it causes excessive daytime sleepiness. In some cases, the episodes of sleepwalking may stop with the short-term use of benzodiazepines or certain antidepressants.
In case sleepwalking is found to be the result of an underlying medical or mental health condition, treatment will focus on that underlying condition. For instance, using a CPAP machine that delivers air pressure through a mask placed over the nose while sleeping and so keeps the upper airway passages open may eliminate the kind of sleepwalking that is caused by obstructive sleep apnea.

Prognosis:

Not Available

Expert's opinion

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