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Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that causes people to get up and walk during their sleep. While sleepwalking usually occurs in childhood, adults can do it, too.

If you experience episodes of sleepwalking, schedule an appointment with your SSM Health primary care provider about whether an underlying medical condition is causing your sleepwalking and the steps you can take to help it stop.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking typically occurs when a person is in the deep stages of sleep during the early portion of the night’s sleep. The sleepwalker is unable to respond during the event and does not remember sleepwalking. In some cases, sleepwalking is associated with incoherent talking. Sleepwalking occurs most commonly in childhood, but can last into adulthood.

Episodes of sleepwalking can range from quiet walking about the room to agitated running. Typically, the eyes are open with a glassy, staring appearance as the person quietly roams the house. On questioning, responses are slow or absent. If the person is returned to bed without awakening, the person usually does not remember the event. Older children, who may awaken more easily at the end of an episode, often are embarrassed by the behavior (especially if it was inappropriate).

Causes of Sleepwalking

Several different factors may be involved in the development of sleepwalking:

  • Genetics
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Stress
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications
  • An underlying health condition, such as asthma or seizures
  • A sleep disorder, like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea

How Sleepwalking is Treated

While there is no specific treatment for sleepwalking, establishing good sleep habits can help.

It’s also important to create a safe sleep environment to minimize the risk of injury in the event you sleepwalk. Remove any sharp or harmful objects from your sleep environment, install locks on your doors and windows, and add gates to your stairs.

Finally, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. Together, you can determine whether a medication or underlying health condition is causing you to sleepwalk. Often times, treating the underlying illness can put an end to sleepwalking.

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