Last Updated on Mar 03, 2023
Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a type of sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. While sleepwalking can be harmless, it can also pose a risk to your safety, especially if you wander outside or engage in dangerous activities without realizing it. If you're a sleepwalker, you're not alone.
In fact, it's estimated that up to 18% of people have experienced sleepwalking at some point in their lives. In this article, we'll explore what causes sleepwalking and how to stop sleepwalking.
Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is a type of sleep disorder that occurs during the non-REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. It is characterized by complex movements or behaviors that a person performs while asleep.
During a sleepwalking episode, a person may sit up in bed, walk around, talk, or perform activities such as getting dressed or even driving a car, all while being completely unaware of their actions.
Sleepwalking episodes can last from a few seconds to 30 minutes or more and typically occur during the first few hours of sleep.
Sleepwalking can be a harmless, occasional occurrence. Still, in some cases, it can pose a risk to the individual's safety, especially if they engage in activities such as cooking, using sharp objects, driving or leaving their home.
A variety of factors can cause sleepwalking; some of the most common causes of sleepwalking are:
A Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study found that individuals with sleep apnea may also experience "parasomnia" symptoms like sleepwalking, hallucinations, and sleep eating, affecting as much as 10% of those with the condition.
The word futon actually means ‘round cushions made with leaves or flower fillings’ and if you see the structure of a futon it pretty much explains it. ‘Futon’ is also a Japanese word for bed.
The world came to know about futon in the early 1900s while it has been a part of the Japanese lifestyle for centuries. If you ever get to visit a Japanese home you won’t find a bed in their house and that is because their beds or futons are kept folded and tucked into a large closet when not in use. The beauty about using a futon is you can arrange it anywhere in the house, whenever you need it.
This bedding is usually placed on the ground without a bed frame. Hence the padding has to be a bit fluffy to support your back while you sleep on it.
Microsleep is a condition that occurs without any warning. So, let’s take a look at the common micro sleep causes.
One of the main triggers of a microsleep episode is sleep deprivation. When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you may experience extreme drowsiness. Therefore, looking for any sleep deprivation symptoms, such as microsleep, is essential. People who have a consistent bedtime sleep routine and go through sleeplessness are more prone to microsleep episodes.
When you work rotational shifts, you may not get the required daily sleep. Your new sleep patterns may confuse your circadian rhythm and can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. In fact, as per research, people who work evening and night shifts are more prone to mistakes at work and even accidents. It was also seen in another study that night shifts can slower the reaction time.
Certain drugs, such as sleep medication can induce drowsiness once you wake up and can put you at risk of microsleep. Also, microsleep can be a symptom of certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.
When performing boring tasks that take a repetitive routine can lead to drowsiness and even microsleep. These tasks include long drives, riding on a plane or train, and even stationary work. It can occur even after a good night’s rest because circadian rhythm may dip down at certain times during the day, such as in the afternoon.
If you have sleepwalking symptoms, check out these treatments or tips on how to stop sleepwalking:
Try to identify any patterns that may be causing sleepwalking. Keeping a sleep diary to track your episodes can help identify any triggers.
Once you have identified the possible cause of sleepwalking, it becomes easier to anticipate and prevent its occurrence in the future.
Ensure you are getting enough sleep and that your sleep environment is conducive to quality sleep. Ensure your room is dark, quiet, and cool, and avoid using electronics before bedtime. Consider incorporating relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Establishing a regular bedtime routine that helps you relax and wind down before sleep can also help reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking. Some sleep-friendly activities include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Avoid stimulating activities before bed, such as watching TV or using electronic devices.
Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking.
Ensure you complete your workout a few hours before bedtime to allow your body to relax. Provided you avoid any demanding physical activity at least an hour before going to bed, exercising in the evening is still an option.
Excessive stress can lead to racing thoughts and difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, such as practicing yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, can help reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking.
Certain scents, such as lavender or chamomile, are known for their relaxing properties and can help promote quality sleep. Use aromatherapy, such as essential oils, to help you relax before bed. However, be careful not to use scents that may be stimulating or triggering.
Calcium and magnesium are essential minerals for muscle relaxation and can help reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking. You can increase your intake through diet or supplements. Good dietary sources of calcium and magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts, and dairy products.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help promote quality sleep and reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking. You can increase your intake through foods like fatty fish, nuts, and seeds or through supplements.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Foods like turkey, milk, and bananas are rich in tryptophan and can help promote quality sleep. However, avoid consuming heavy meals close to bedtime.
Hypnosis can help address underlying psychological factors that may be contributing to sleepwalking. Consult a qualified hypnotherapist for guidance on this treatment option.
Certain herbal teas, such as chamomile and valerian root, have calming properties that can promote quality sleep and reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking. However, avoid consuming caffeine-containing teas before bed as this can interfere with quality sleep.
If you have a family member who sleepwalks, it's essential to take steps to protect them from harm.
Here are some tips to help protect a sleepwalker:
While occasional sleepwalking may not necessarily be a cause for concern, persistent or frequent episodes may indicate an underlying sleep disorder that requires medical attention.
You should consider seeing a doctor if:
Sleepwalking can be a distressing and potentially dangerous sleep disorder, but there are steps you can take to manage and prevent it. You can improve your chances of avoiding sleepwalking episodes by identifying potential triggers, building healthy sleep habits, and taking precautions.
Speaking to your healthcare provider if you or a loved one is experiencing sleepwalking is essential. They can help rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide guidance on how to manage and prevent sleepwalking.