Performing normal, everyday activities while you’re asleep may seem strange, but it’s exactly what happens when people go sleepwalking. But is it dangerous?
What is sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking (aka somnambulism) is a disorder that originates during deep sleep. The result is that the person affected can walk or perform other complex behaviours while they are asleep. The condition is more common in children with around 2-3 per cent of children sleepwalking regularly, while 5 per cent sleepwalk sometimes. Most people stop sleepwalking after childhood, with about 4 in every 1000 adults who still do it. However, it may come back during illness or stressful periods.
What happens when people sleepwalk?
Sleepwalkers usually get out of bed and move about the house during deep sleep. The level of activity will vary. Sometimes they may just sit up in bed. Other times they may walk around the house or even leave the house. Sometimes they may perform household duties or even get in a car and drive. Some sleepwalkers may talk during their sleep or engage in inappropriate behaviour such as urinating in places other than the toilet. (This is usually the case for children).
Sleepwalkers generally have little or no memory of their activities.
Is sleepwalking dangerous
There is a common belief that it’s dangerous to wake someone up who is sleepwalking. However, it may be dangerous not to wake them, as they may end up engaging in activities that can cause them harm, as some sleepwalkers may sustain injuries during their episodes. However, it’s important to understand that waking up a sleepwalker can prove difficult, and may result in the sleepwalker attacking the person trying to wake them, as a result of being confused.
Sleepwalking also causes poor sleep quality, which can contribute to tiredness, anxiety and even depression.
Can you prevent sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking can be inherited or related to a stage of development in children. It may also be triggered by not getting enough sleep, having irregular sleep hours, stress, drugs or medications. Some medical conditions can also contribute, including sleep apnoea, seizures and fever.
Sometimes, the best course of action is to gently direct the sleepwalker back to bed while they’re sleepwalking.
There is no specific treatment for sleepwalking. In childhood, it may simply be a part of growing up in which case, it will resolve itself. Developing good sleep habits is often all it takes to reduce the frequency of sleepwalking episodes. However, if it happens often or has a big impact on the sleepwalker (e.g. feeling tired in the day, low concentration levels or sustained injuries), it may be necessary to seek medical advice.
Improving your sleep habits may include:
- Going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each day
- Exercising regularly as this helps promote sleep
- Doing calming, relaxing activities before bedtime and limiting stimulating activities, such as electronic devices
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants
- Avoiding eating large meals, or meals that are spicy, and high in fat before bedtime
- Setting your room at a comfortable temperature
- Ensuring your bed and mattress is comfortable and offers proper support.
If a high-quality, supportive mattress is what you’re looking for, come and chat to us at our showroom or browse our range today. We’re sure to have one to suit all the sleepwalkers (and non-sleepwalkers) in your family.