Sleep Walking

Teenage boy sleep walking

Sleep Walking is known as disorder of sleep arousal. In medical terms Sleep Walking is known as a disorder of arousal as most people go from sleeping soundly, to soon being fully awake i.e aroused. It tends to occur within the first couple of hours of sleep and when the affected person remains stuck in a certain stage of the brain wave pattern (in sleep stage 3 or 4 of non-rapid eye movement sleep). This causes the person to Sleep Walk and sometimes carry out simple or occasionally even complex tasks, whilst still in a sleeping state. During this time people have been known to cook, drive and even commit crimes. They will have little or no memory of this episode due to being in an unconscious state of sleep at the time. Sleep Walking can be treated with medication and/ or psychological intervention such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Some people have a predisposition to Sleep Walking. These adults may have a history of Sleep Walking in childhood and when another sleep problem develops during adulthood e.g sleep apnoea. Treatment of the sleep apnoea will in most circumstances effectively control and eliminate Sleep Walking.

When the Sleep Walking happens, avoid waking them as this could result in a violent reaction. The best approach is to gently guide them back to bed.

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