You must have read plenty of articles stating the importance of sleep and its effect on overall health. Well, there is no denying the benefits of sleep for overall well-being, but shockingly enough statistics reveal that about 70 million US citizens suffer from sleep disorders.
The numbers are staggering and may be hard to believe, especially since sleep disorders may lead to various illnesses.
Sleepwalking is among these disorders, one that may not often be taken seriously. The condition may be considered benign. However, recent studies reveal results that state otherwise.
Research conducted in France indicated that sleepwalking in adults is a condition that is potentially serious and maybe the cause of fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety.
There is a high risk of violent behaviors and dangerous consequences for sleep-walkers such as injuries or accidents.
In this article, we will explore possible ways to help sleepwalkers.
But first let’s look at the science and facts behind sleep-walking:
The disorder falls under the broad category of parasomnias. The sleep cycle consists of 5 stages, the transition between which occurs from Non- REM to REM sleep.
Sleepwalking occurs during deep sleep when the brain isn’t conscious, but the body can move. The person appears to be awake and walking, with the eyes wide open with a distinctive glassy look.
Once the person wakes up, they will not remember any of the incidents that occurred.
Sleepwalking is dangerous, as the activities can include anything from merely sitting, walking to driving a car. The disorder is most common among children but can affect adults too.
Causes behind Sleepwalking
Various reasons may be the cause of sleepwalking, some of these are:
Genes play a significant role in sleepwalking. A study revealed that a person is at a much higher risk of getting affected by the disorder if any of his first-degree relatives have been through the condition.
People who are sleep-deprived or don’t follow proper sleep schedules are also prone to sleepwalking
Specific health issues such as fever, magnesium deficiency, arrhythmia, asthma, acid reflux, sleep apnea, heartburn, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and stress increase the risk of developing the condition.
Furthermore, people who take tranquilizers or sedatives for sleeping, and consume drugs to enhance physical activity &cure allergies, those who get drunk are more likely to sleepwalk.
For kids, the reasons are almost the same, fever, illnesses, fatigue and irregular sleep schedules.
How to Identify Sleepwalking?
Various symptoms can help you determine if someone is sleepwalking or not.
First and foremost, the person would roam around, quietly, and appear dazed. They may also attempt to escape. They may murmur words but they won’t make sense and will seem clumsy. If you question the sleepwalker, they will either not respond at all or be very slow. Some people may also shout or get violent and may attack the person trying to wake them.
For children, the behaviors are almost the same. They may just sit up and repeat actions such as rubbing eyes or mess around with their pajamas. Sleepwalking in children may also be associated with other conditions such as bedwetting, sleep apnea or their habit of sleeping restlessly.
Should we awaken a Sleepwalker?
There is a common misapprehension that you shouldn’t awaken a sleepwalker or else he may die. That is WRONG!
Although if you wake a somnambulist, they may get confused, distressed or even react violently for a short-time, waking them isn’t harmful.
In fact, the dangers associated with walking during sleep can have far worse consequences as the person may leave the house, start the car or begin to cook a meal.
How to Treat the Condition?
There aren’t specific treatments for sleepwalking itself, but you may have to discuss the symptoms with your doctor to find out if there is an underlying condition.
Any illness triggering the disorder or problems such as fatigue and stress needs to be treated.
Some simple remedies may help:
- Improving your sleep hygiene is crucial. You need to make a proper sleep schedule and work out at least 7 to 8 hours to get adequate sleep.
- If you suffer from sleep apnea, you can get comfortable pillows for a good night’s sleep.
- Meditation can do wonders for you; it will relax your mind and aid you in getting better sleep. Practice meditative exercises at home.
- The primary risk for sleepwalkers is incurring an injury; you can take measures to prevent yourself from getting harmed.
- Remove all sorts of sharp objects, clear the floor so there aren’t any obstacles that may cause tripping. If your kid is a sleepwalker, make sure he/she sleeps on the lower bunk. You can also install alarms around the windows and doors that go off when the person tries to come out of the room.
The condition is common among children; your child may outgrow it as he ages.
However, for adults, it is suggested to consult a physician and determine the cause. Don’t let it go unobserved as the condition may be hinting at something serious.