Sleepwalking or somnambulance is a bizarre sleep disorder that affects up to fourteen percent of children at some time before they are teenagers. Around a quarter of them will experience more than one episode of sleepwalking. For some reason, more boys than girls sleepwalk but most somnambulists grow out of the problem before they become teenagers.
Sleepwalking is in fact a brain disorder as well as a sleep disorder, but it is a brain disorder of the nervous system which normally corrects itself as the sufferer gets older. By way of explanation, normally, when people wake up, the whole body and whole brain wake up together, whereas with sleepwalkers, the mobility part of the brain and the body wakes up, but the cognitive/awareness part of the brain stays sleeping, at least for a short time.
At least that is one explanation, because as with so many things to do with the brain, no one really knows, all that can be agreed by everyone, is that the child is still in a deep sleep while it is wandering about.
Whilst the child is wandering around, the eyes are open, but the face seems extraordinarily impassive. The child can see but still trips or stumbles and still bumps into items. Normally, the child will not pay attention to a conversation or react to hearing its name.
The most common time for an bout of sleepwalking to take place is within the first two hours of sleep. The periods of somnambulance normally last from fifteen minutes to two hours and the sleepwalker might get dressed and go outside.
Although it is prudent to bring this condition to your doctor’s attention, no treatment is usually necessary other than putting better security on all external doors and locking windows at low level to prevent the child from leaving the house.
They usually grow out of sleepwalking sooner or later. If you child sleepwalks, all you ought to do is lead it back to bed without waking it up unnecessarily. It is not dangerous to wake up a sleepwalker, but not essential either.
Roughly one percent of adults sleepwalk as well, and this one percent are not inevitably the ones who sleepwalked as children. Adult sleepwalking usually has other more mundane causes such as stress, worry and insomnia or even some medical conditions such as epilepsy. When the reason goes away so does the sleepwalking.
Treatments vary significantly depending on the seriousness of the ‘sleepwalk’. Does the sufferer only go down and sit in the living room or does the sufferer open the door and go outside where there is lots of traffic? Hypnotism is one remedy.
There are other safety measures that people living with sleepwalkers can or maybe should take. Because sleepwalkers are prone to bumping into items, make certain there is nothing projecting anywhere that could poke them in the eye. Hang bells or wind chimes in places where they tend to go and on doors that they use in order to alert you that they are on the move.
Lock certain doors with deadbolts and take the key out and finally make sure that all low-level glass is toughed and covered by curtains at night so that they do not try to walk through them without first opening them.
Owen Jones, the writer of this piece, writes on several topics, but is now concerned with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. If you want to know more, please visit our website at Sleep Apnea Surgery Techniques
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