What Causes Sleep Walking?
Sleepwalking is a disorder that affects anywhere from one to 15% of the population. It is often referred to as somnambulism, and its effects can range from simple gestures such as sitting up in bed, but it can also take on severe manifestations that can include a sufferer getting into his or her car and driving long distances – even though they are still in a state of deep sleep.
Obviously, there are dangers associated with sleepwalking, which is why the old adage of not waking a sleepwalker up is wrong. It is considerably more dangerous to allow a sleepwalker to carry out the activities, which can result in accidents and injury to themselves and others.
Scientific research has concluded that sleepwalking does not occur as the result of a psychiatric or psychological problem. In most cases, severe sleep deprivation, or medications and drugs that cause increased sedation trigger the somnambulist behaviors. There are also some illnesses, such as those caused by bacteria or viruses that can trigger sleepwalking.
Sleepwalking behaviors generally occur during periods of deep sleep, but many sufferers can be in a state of partial consciousness during the episode. There are numerous behaviors that may occur, including walking around, talking, urinating in inappropriate locations, and even acts of violence in rare cases.
Sleepwalking often runs in families, although there is no known cause of the behavior. While most common in children, the problem can extend into adulthood. The best ways to deal with sleepwalking is to create a sleeping environment that is safe. This includes making sure sleeping areas are free from dangers, using gates, and even locking doors in cases where the person attempts to leave.
Sleepwalking is only dangerous due to the activities involved. Treatment by a psychologist or a doctor can be helpful in controlling the behaviors if they become disruptive.