What Causes Sleep Walking?

What Causes Sleep Walking?

Sleepwalking, a.k.a. somnambulism, is a sleep disorder. Those afflicted can walk or move about, eat, talk, and even perform routine activities while sleeping without a memory of the moment. The specific cause of sleepwalking has not been fully explained by science; however, Dr. Richard Bogan and Dr. Laura Herpel of Bogan Sleep Consultants in Columbia, SC offers the following guidance on sleepwalking.

Episodes of sleepwalking will vary in duration, frequency, and intensity among those who sleepwalk.

Sleepwalking is generally considered harmless, but it can pose certain risks, such as injuries from falls or accidents during episodes. If sleepwalking episodes are frequent, disruptive, or result in injuries, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional or sleep specialist for evaluation and appropriate management.

What Causes Sleep Walking?

Sleepwalking tends to run in families, which suggests that may be a strong genetic component that may be inherited. In addition, sleepwalking may be caused by -

Medications and Substances

A variety of medications prescribed for various reasons may increase the risk of sleepwalking. These include -

  • Sedatives
  • Hypnotics
  • Certain Antidepressants
  • Alcohol/Recreational Drugs

Sleep Deprivation & Fatigue

Episodes of sleepwalking episodes can be triggered by an individual who is sleep deprived or consistently gets not enough or poor quality of sleep. Irregular sleep patterns or those whose sleep hygiene needs improvement can also make someone susceptible to sleepwalking.

Underlying Medical Conditions/Sleep Disorders

Sleepwalking can be potentially associated with or a manifestation of another medical condition or medication used to treat another medical condition. Examples would include -

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Children with high fevers

Psychological Factors

People who are challenged by emotional distress or have a history of anxiety disorders may find they are more prone to sleepwalking episodes.

Developmental Factors

Sleepwalking tends to happen more often in children between the ages of 4 and 8 – decreasing as they get older and reach adulthood. A child’s undeveloped central nervous system can contribute to sleepwalking.

Sleep Disorders

Episodes of sleepwalking can also be related to other sleep disorders, often co-occurring as they often exhibit common underlying factors.

Sleep Walking Treatment Options

The options for treating sleepwalking vary and depend very much on the patient’s specific circumstances but will likely include proactively –

  • Improving your sleep hygiene
  • Managing an underlying medical condition(s)
  • Managing anxiety/stress

Cognitive behavioral therapy or medication may also be introduced in more severe cases.

Call for a Sleep Consultation Today

Dr. Bogan and Dr. Herpel of Bogan Sleep Consultants can help diagnose sleep issues and develop a customized treatment plan to address the underlying causes and specific needs. Give us a call at (803) 251-3093 or reach out online.

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