General Practice 2022

Sleepwalking: what é, causes, symptoms and treatment

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Sleepwalking: what é, causes, symptoms and treatment
Sleepwalking: what é, causes, symptoms and treatment

Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that occurs during the deepest phase of sleep. The person who is sleepwalking may appear to be awake because he moves and has his eyes open, however, he remains asleep and cannot control exactly what he does and usually, when he wakes up, he does not remember anything that happened.

Sleepwalking has a familial factor involved and all adults who are affected had the onset of symptoms in childhood, around 3 to 7 years old, during the school period.

Sleepwalking usually heals on its own, stopping in adolescence, but for some people episodes may appear later, and it may be necessary to consult a sleep specialist or psychologist to identify a possible cause and initiate the most appropriate treatment.

What causes sleepwalking

The causes of sleepwalking are not yet fully known, but it is known that it may be related to a certain immaturity of the nervous system, which is why it is more common in children and adolescents.

In addition, sleepwalking also seems to be more frequent in people with certain risk factors, such as:

  • Not sleeping at least 7 hours a day;
  • Being going through a very stressful period;
  • Use some types of medication, especially antidepressants;
  • Having another sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

Most of the time the person has few episodes of sleepwalking in a lifetime, but when the father, mother or siblings are also affected, the person may have more frequent episodes that last into adulthood.

How to identify a sleepwalker

Hardly the person himself will discover that he is a sleepwalker, because even though he seems to be awake, he is still sleeping and is not aware of his actions. It is usually the other family members who discover that there is a sleepwalker in the house, because they have already found him half-awake sitting, talking or walking around the house.

Signs that can help identify a sleepwalker, in addition to walking during sleep, include:

  • Speaking in your sleep, but unable to answer the question directly;
  • Have no memory of what happened upon waking up;
  • Having inappropriate behaviors while sleeping, such as urinating in the bedroom;
  • Difficulty waking up during sleepwalking episode;
  • Being violent when someone tries to wake up.

For not being able to control what they are doing, the person who suffers from sleepwalking can sometimes be dangerous for their own he alth, as they can end up sleeping on the street, or dangerous for the he alth of others, since which can become violent when trying to be woken up.Thus, the ideal thing is that the sleepwalker sleeps in a room with the door closed and without dangerous objects.

Normally, special tests are not necessary to confirm a sleepwalking situation, since the sleep specialist can reach the diagnosis only with the reports of family members or friends.

How the treatment is done

There is no specific treatment for sleepwalking, so when identifying that the person suffers from sleepwalking, it is important to cherish their safety, keeping doors and windows properly closed at night, to prevent them from leaving from home alone and protecting the steps or unevenness of the house, to prevent her from falling and getting hurt.

Furthermore, it is not advised to try to wake up the person during a sleepwalking episode because this can be difficult and because he/she may wake up very scared and it may be difficult to sleep again, for fear or fear that the episode may recur.

The best way to deal with the situation is to speak calmly to the person and say that it's late, it's time to rest and that they should go back to bed. You can touch her and lovingly take her back to her room, because even though she won't wake up, she will be able to fulfill this request and go back to sleep normally.

Check out some other practical tips for dealing with sleepwalking.

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