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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Mental and Behavioural Disorders Sleep Walking

Sleep Walking

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Sleep walking also called Somnambulism is a disorder of sleep characterized by walking in sleep without being conscious of the act.

 

Sleep normally as four stages including REM sleep and NREM sleep in cycles. Sleep walking is a disorder in this cycle where the person starts walking suddenly in the sleep without realizing the act that they are doing. Sleep walking occurs usually in the deep, NREM sleep (stage 3 or stage 4 sleep) early in the night. More common in the age groups of 4 – 12  years.

The cause of sleep walking is still unknown but is associated with REM sleep disorder, some organic brain disorder, some mental disorders, Panic attack, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias.

Signs and symptoms of Sleep walking

The patients normally presents with features of

 

  • Walking during the night without their consciousness as said by others
  • Sudden sitting up in sleep
  • Eye opening without seeing anything
  • Having a blank look or staring on nothing during sleep walking
  • Does not remember the events during sleep walking
  • Injury due to fall during sleep walking
  • Confused state on arousing from sleep walking
  • Performing some skillful activities in sleep walking in sleep
  • Rarely aggressive behavior. 

Diagnosis

Medical history is sufficient for the diagnosis of sleep walking.

Polysomnogram and Sleep Electroencephalogram are also useful in the diagnosis.

Treatment

The treatment includes

 

  • Reassurance 
  • Prevention of injuries during sleep walking by locking the room, block the stairs with a gate, move the furniture and vases from the usual path of sleep walking.
  • In most cases sleep walking decreases with age.
  • In few cases short acting tranquilizers have been helpful.