What is Sleepwalking and Why Does it Happen?

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Joy Richards - January 6, 2017 Hi, I’m Joy - Happy Beds' Sleep Specialist. Aside from Italian food and my three lovely boys, nothing makes me happier than helping our customers find what works for them, and how they can make the most of their forty winks.

What is Sleepwalking and Why Does it Happen?

Millions of people worldwide suffer from sleepwalking, and yet many of them don’t understand what’s happening or why.

If you find yourself falling into this demographic, take a look at our breakdown below for some useful insights into the phenomenon.

 

So, What Is It?

Sleepwalking is exactly what it says on the tin.

It usually happens when you’re going from a deep sleep and tucked up in your king size bed, into a state of being slightly awake, yet still unaware of your surroundings.

Sleepwalkers have no control over their actions while they’re stuck in this trance-like state, and some have even found themselves eating, driving or calling relatives all while being completely unaware of their actions.

While the disorder normally affects children, it’s not uncommon for adults to find themselves suffering from it too.

 

What Does it Look Like?

For those whose partners, friends, parents or children suffer from sleepwalking it can be quite a frightening phenomenon to witness. Let us answer the common question, how to tell if someone is sleepwalking?

Typically, suffers’ eyes remain wide open and yet they are unresponsive to movement or sound. They’re likely to try and walk or run from a room, depending on the context of the dream that is driving them.

The question, what stage of sleep does sleepwalking occur is a difficult one to answer, as it tends to be different for different people. If the sleepwalker is entering the lighter phase of their sleep cycle, they may have limited responses to questions although these responses may be nonsensical or indecipherable.

Most sufferers return to their beds during the dream sequence, although it is important to assure that all doors that lead to exiting the safety of your home are locked as a precaution.

 

So, What Causes It?

Believe it or not, sleepwalking can actually be a genetic condition. You’re ten times more likely to suffer from sleepwalking if someone in your direct genealogical line also suffers, so if your mother, father, brother or sister struggles with the sleep disorder then chances are so will you.

Of course, this isn’t always the case, and outside influences can also affect your sleep cycle and cause the disorder.

If you’re particularly stressed or busy and your regular sleeping schedule is disturbed, or if you generally have a chaotic sleeping pattern then that makes you more likely to sleepwalk during the night.

Alongside this, there are some medical issues that can also lead to sleepwalking. These include night time asthma, an irregular heartbeat, restless leg symptom or sleep apnea. Such problems often disrupt your body’s natural flow and prevent the successful completion of the regular sleep cycle, which in turn leads to sleepwalking.

 

So, What Can You Do?

While there’s not much in regards to DIY remedies that could help cure sleepwalking, Sleep.org do offer some more drastic options that may remedy the issue.

According to them, many sufferers opt for hypnotherapy in order to train their mind into waking up the moment their feet touch the floor, while others opt for spending time in a designated sleep clinic.

While these options may not always be possible, there are some precautionary measures that are recommended.

It’s important to keep all doors and windows locked, with the keys out of reach or with someone who understands your condition and will not allow you to retrieve them.

Alongside this, it’s also vital that all sharp objects and medications are locked away in order to prevent accidental injury while in your trance like state.

Finally, if you live alone it may be worth placing objects in the way of your usual path in order to prevent you from leaving the bedroom, or as a last resort installing an alarm that will trigger when someone attempts to leave as the piercing sound will likely wake you up.

 

A photo posted by Vivi (@vivsia) on

Sleep walking may be troublesome to handle, but there are steps you can take to prevent causing panic to you and your loved ones.

Alongside the tips I've highlighted above, why not take the time to analyze your environment? Do you need a new bed or a high quality mattress that could alleviate the issue? Healthy, peaceful surroundings during sleep time can have a big impact on the quality of your rest, so always ensure your environment is sorted before anything else.

Treat yourself to a comfortable night's sleep