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Myths and Realities of Sleepwalking

By Benni Jenyfari    3/28/07

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You might know this already, but sleepwalking is actually more than just walking in your sleep. Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, can also include just sitting up in bed or even more complex activities like moving furniture and driving. Episodes of sleepwalking can last from just a few seconds to more than 30 minutes.

 

Sleepwalking is a fascinating activity and has been portrayed on television and in movies. Because of this popular interest, some misinformation about sleepwalking has developed. Let's take a look at a few of the myths and realities of sleepwalking.

 

Myth: Most sleepwalking is done by adults.

 

The truth is that sleepwalking is most likely to occur among children aged 6 to 12. It is slightly more common in boys and seems to run in families. Sleepwalking in children is often caused by prior sleep loss, fatigue or anxiety. It is almost never linked with any serious medical condition in children.

 

Adults can and do sleepwalk. In adults, sleepwalking may indicate a mental disorder or may be a reaction to certain drugs or alcohol. Sleepwalking can occur among the elderly, although it is not very common.

 

Myth: Sleepwalking happens while you're dreaming.

 

Not true. Sleepwalking is most likely to occur when you are in very deep, non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It usually happens early in the night.

 

Myth: It's dangerous to awaken a sleepwalker.

 

In fact, it's not dangerous at all to awaken a sleepwalker. When awakened, they may be very confused or disoriented. But in some cases, depending on what they're doing while sleepwalking, it may be safer to wake them up.

 

Myth: A sleepwalking person can't be injured.

 

The reality is that people are injured all the time while sleepwalking. Injuries are usually minor, limited to bumps and bruises from falling or running into things.

 

Myth: People say what they really think when sleepwalking.

 

Actually, "sleeptalking" is quite common and is almost always incomprehensible and unconnected.

 

Symptoms of sleepwalking include open eyes and a blank expression. Individuals usually have no recall of what took place during their sleepwalking. There is no real diagnosis of sleepwalking and there is no treatment. In most cases, episodes of sleepwalking will become less frequent with age. It's often a good idea to remove obstacles and obvious dangers to sleepwalkers. Other than that, there's little that can be done.

Article provided courtesy of Bedding Plus - a resource for bedding and comforter sets.

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