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  • Katie Yeung

Sleepwalking - Sleep Related Issues

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

Sleepwalking — also known as somnambulism — involves getting up and walking around while in a state of sleep. It can be a source of stress or shame for the sleepwalker, a source of amusement or grievance for friends and family.

More common in children than adults, sleepwalking is usually outgrown by the teen years. Isolated incidents of sleepwalking often don't signal any serious problems or require treatment. However, recurrent sleepwalking may suggest an underlying sleep disorder.

Sleepwalking in adults has a higher chance of being confused with, or coexisting with, other sleep disorders as well as medical conditions.


Sleepwalking usually occurs early in the night — often one to two hours after falling asleep. It's unlikely to occur during naps. A sleepwalking episode can occur rarely or often, and an episode generally lasts several minutes, but can last longer.


Photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash

Someone who is sleepwalking may:

· Get out of bed and walk around

· Sit up in bed and open his or her eyes

· Have a glazed, glassy-eyed expression

· Not respond or communicate with others

· Be difficult to wake up during an episode

· Be disoriented or confused for a short time after being awakened

· Not remember the episode in the morning

· Have problems functioning during the day because of disturbed sleep

· Have sleep terrors in addition to sleepwalking


Sometimes, a person who is sleepwalking will:

· Do routine activities, such as getting dressed, talking or eating

· Leave the house

· Drive a car

· Engage in unusual behavior, such as urinating in a closet

· Engage in sexual activity without awareness

· Get injured, for example, by falling down the stairs or jumping out a window

· Become violent during the period of brief confusion immediately after waking or, occasionally, during sleepwalking


Many factors can contribute to sleepwalking, including:

· Sleep deprivation

· Stress

· Fever

· Sleep schedule disruptions, travel or sleep interruptions


Sometimes sleepwalking can by triggered by underlying conditions that interfere with sleep, such as:

· Sleep-disordered breathing — a group of disorders featuring abnormal breathing patterns during sleep (for example, obstructive sleep apnea)

· Taking certain medications, such as hypnotics, sedatives or certain medications used for psychiatric disorders

· Substance use, such as alcohol

· Restless legs syndrome

· Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)


Sleepwalking can have a significant affect health and life quality. Hypnotherapy can address sleepwalking issues but it is always advised that this work is done in conjunction with regular check-ups with you G.P. to rule out underlying medical conditions.


All sleep disorder information is from the Mayo Clinic.

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