A study done by researchers at the University of Montreal suggests that sleep deprivation triggers sleepwalking.
The researchers studied 40 patients suspected of sleepwalking. After being deprived of sleep for 25 hours, sleepwalking increased. There is, at present, no proven method of diagnosing the cause of sleepwalking. However, when used as a tool, sleep deprivation is a step toward finding a reliable diagnostic method.
The study does show that people prone to sleepwalking should maintain a regular sleep schedule that will help prevent sleep deprivation.
Sleepwalking has been much in the news lately as it has been used as a defense in court cases, including murder. In some cases this defense failed, but in several cases, the sleepwalking defense was accepted.
- Asleep with eyes wide open
- Sitting up while asleep
- Walking around with a blank expression
- Getting out of bed and walking around the room
- Performing other acts - turning on the TV, even cooking, while asleep
- Doesn't remember the episode when awakened
- When awakened, seems confused and disoriented
- Mumbling incomprehensible phrases or talking nonsense.
- Previous sleep loss
- Worry and anxiety
- Drugs - prescription or recreational
- Alcohol consumption
- Various medical conditions
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) disorders.
METHODS OF DIAGNOSIS
- Personal observation or observation by others
- Medical or psychological testing to discover underlying cause
TREATMENT, PREVENTION OR CURE
- Determine underlying cause and remove it if possible
- Make sure sleep walker is in a safe room with no obstacles, away from stairs and unable to leave the building
- Ask the doctor about medication, such as tranquilizers.
- If the sleepwalker is a child, quite often they will outgrow the disorder.
If you, or someone you love is a sleepwalker, be sure his or her environment is safe. No stairs or open windows. Doors should be locked and the key hidden in a safe place. See a doctor as soon as possible to discover why the sleepwalking is happening. Also, a doctor may be able to suggest medication to try or he may refer you to a sleep lab for further testing.
Published On: April 02, 2008