Although mostly occurring in childhood, sleepwalking can occur at any age. As its name suggests, sleepwalking is characterized by walking while asleep. While sleepwalking is generally not an indicator of underlying sleep disorders, recurrent or frequent sleepwalking can indicate other sleeping conditions. Due to the possible dangers associated with walking during your sleep, it is essential to minimize any potential hazards throughout the house.
Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Causes
Symptoms include walking around while sleeping, no recollection of the incident after waking, eyes opened during the episode, and unresponsiveness to others. It is possible to leave the house, drive a car, go to the store, or perform other activities while sleepwalking. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to wake a person who is sleepwalking, so if you are witness to an incident, it is best to decrease the risk of injury until the person has woken naturally. Risk factors include genetics and age. For example, children are more likely to experience sleepwalking than adults. Other causes can include fever, stress, and abnormal sleeping patterns.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is usually as simple as speaking to a physician about sleeping habits and symptoms. However, sometimes a sleep study may be suggested by the physician. Treatment in most cases is not necessary, since sleepwalking generally stops during the teenage years. Although, if sleepwalking persists into adult years, medications can be taken to reduce the occurrence of incidents. Adjusting medications could also be recommended as some medications for chronic medical conditions can cause sleepwalking. Lifestyle adjustments, such as avoiding alcohol, establishing a regular sleep routine, and reducing stress, may also help decrease the frequency of incidents.