Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder, causing you to arise and perform various, everyday actions, while you are still asleep.
During sleepwalking, the eyes are usually wide open but have a distant, glassy look to them. The subject may sit up in its bed, walk around, talk, and perform simple actions, such as getting dressed, urinating, or eating. Often, these actions are not performed correctly, the subject may urinate in a trash can, dress incorrectly or go out the window. The actions can also be more complicated, some sleepwalkers have even managed to drive a car a long distance.
Sleep can be divided into REM-sleep (rapid eye movement sleep) and NREM-sleep (non-rapid eye movement sleep). REM-sleep is usually where our dreams take place, while NREM-sleep is where our deep sleep occurs. Contrary to what most people may think, sleepwalking does not occur in the REM-stage, but the NREM-stage. Therefore, people are usually not dreaming while they sleep-walk. Generally, they have no memory of sleepwalking and are often unaware of it.
Sleepwalkers can be very hard to wake up and are often confused if they wake up during an episode. Usually, it is not considered dangerous to wake a sleepwalker. It can even be necessary if the subject, or its partner, is in danger. Some sleepwalkers, men especially, may express violent behavior when awoken.
Sleepwalking is much more common among children than adults. The behavior will usually fade over time and can be considered a normal part of a child’s sleeping pattern. Although uncertain, this might be since we get way more NREM-sleep during our childhood, increasing our chances of sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is also more prone to occur during the first third of a night’s sleep, where most of our NREM-sleep takes place.
The frequency of the episodes varies between individuals. Some people rarely have episodes, while others have a few episodes in one night, even many nights in a row. Children, who sleepwalk, will often talk in their sleep, have sleep terrors, and suffer from bedwetting.
Sleepwalking is often associated with an irregular sleep schedule and stressful environment. It is recommended to keep a consistent sleep schedule and, in some cases, consult a doctor.
References and further information can be found on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine‘s website: