Somnambulism or sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that is characterized by performing activities that are usually done in full consciousness. This sleep disorder is part of the parasomnia family. Hereditary factors play a major role in developing somnambulism. Other trigger factors include those that contribute to slow wave sleep such as fever, excessive exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Some persons with mental disorders are known to sleepwalk. Sleepwalkers are known to sit up in bed, clean, cook and sometimes even drive.
Typically sleepwalkers have no memory of these episodes. Although their eyes are open, they are not truly conscious. They are likely to have a dazed and glazed look. Sleepwalkers might talk in sleep too. They might even open their eyes though they are still asleep. A typical sleepwalking episode can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Sleepwalking occurs during non-REM sleep. Episodes of sleepwalking usually start when a kid is around 5 - 10 years.
Most sleepwalkers do not require any particular treatment. Short-acting tranquilizers are often used. Sleepwalkers are usually prescribed tricyclic antidepressants, and clonazepam. In some cases, ECG is taken during sleep to rule out seizures. Hazardous items must be kept out of their reach. Most experts advice that it is best to gently nudge and guide a sleepwalker back to sleep. Those who have a tendency to sleepwalk must develop a calm soothing bedtime ritual and ensure that they get sufficient rest. Hypnosis is known to help in some cases.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 24, 2018