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Sleepwalking – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Q&A

Sleepwalking – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Q&A

Addressing sleepwalking in adults requires a comprehensive and individualized approach, integrating a range of treatments, health, and lifestyle interventions tailored to the severity and root causes of the disorder. Experts at the Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders conduct a detailed evaluation process, which includes an assessment of the individual’s medical history, physical examinations, and an exploration of their sleep behaviors and environments. For more information, please contact us or book an appointment online now! We have convenient locations across the USA in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI. Visit us online for a listing of our locations and to learn more about our services!

Sleepwalking - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment - Koala Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders in Bloomington IL, Peoria – Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI.
Sleepwalking - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment - Koala Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders in Bloomington IL, Peoria – Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI.

Table of Contents:

What are the causes of sleepwalking?
How can you tell if someone is sleepwalking?
How do I stop sleepwalking as an adult?
Is sleepwalking a mental health issue?

What are the causes of sleepwalking?


Sleepwalking is a complex sleep disorder that often begins in childhood and can extend into adult life, especially when it occurs alongside other sleep-related disorders or medical conditions. This behavior is a type of parasomnia that happens during the deepest stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, particularly stage N3 sleep.

The triggers for sleepwalking are varied, including sleep schedule disruptions, sleep interruptions, or overall sleep deprivation. Factors such as adherence to an irregular sleep schedule, unhealthy lifestyle choices, including excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, a lack of exercise, and stress from mental health disorders or acute life pressures, contribute to the onset of sleepwalking.

Specific conditions, including sleep-disordered breathing, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), restless leg syndrome, and the effects of certain medications, have been identified as potentially associated with sleepwalking.

Genetic predispositions can also play a role, with sleepwalking more likely to occur in individuals whose parents have a history of the condition. When sleepwalking persists into adulthood, it’s more likely to be indicative of underlying issues.

How can you tell if someone is sleepwalking?


Detecting sleepwalking can be subtle or obvious, depending on the individual’s symptom presentations during an episode. Typically, a sleepwalker’s eyes are open but have a glassy, unfocused look. Responses to attempts at communication are usually minimal, nonsensical, or don’t occur at all.

The individual will typically have no memory of the event, with confusion being a common reaction if they are awakened during an episode. These episodes can vary in duration, sometimes lasting less than 10 minutes, though they can extend longer. They might conclude with the person returning to bed or waking up elsewhere.

For observers, ensuring the sleepwalker’s safety is important, with guidance back to bed recommended if possible, taking care not to startle or physically restrain them. Regular and disruptive episodes, particularly those that involve dangerous behaviors, necessitate professional consultation, such as with experts at the Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders, to assess and address the underlying causes.

How do I stop sleepwalking as an adult?


Addressing sleepwalking in adults requires a comprehensive and individualized approach, integrating a range of treatments, health, and lifestyle interventions tailored to the severity and root causes of the disorder. Experts at the Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders conduct a detailed evaluation process, which includes an assessment of the individual’s medical history, physical examinations, and an exploration of their sleep behaviors and environments.

Treatment strategies are varied, potentially including therapy, stress management techniques, and the establishment of a solid sleep routine. Key lifestyle adjustments recommended include maintaining a healthy diet, regular physical activity, exposure to natural light, and ensuring a sleep-conducive environment.

This environment should be free from electronic distractions before bedtime, with attention to the comfort of the mattress, pillows, and overall sleeping conditions. Avoiding alcohol, stimulants, and caffeinated beverages before sleep is also advised, as these can worsen sleepwalking episodes.

Is sleepwalking a mental health issue?


Sleepwalking itself is not classified as a mental health disorder, but it can be closely linked to mental health in several ways. It may present as a symptom of underlying mental health issues, or the disruption to sleep quality it causes can exacerbate existing mental health conditions.

Sleepwalking can be influenced by or influence conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and more severe disorders like major depressive disorder, alcohol and substance use disorders, and schizophrenia. The nature of this relationship can lead to a deteriorating cycle of poor sleep and worsening mental health.

For adults, the occurrence of sleepwalking is more frequently associated with underlying health problems, including mental health challenges, necessitating a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Individuals concerned about the frequency, causes, or impacts of their sleepwalking, or those facing safety issues during episodes, should seek the expertise of sleep professionals, such as those at the Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders.

Sleepwalking treatment is available at the Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders.

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