What is somnambulism?

Somnambulism, also noctambulism or sleepwalking, is a sleep disorder characterized by a complex complex of behavioral manifestations that occur during of sleep.

Sometimes a sleepwalker may talk incoherently during sleep. His eyes are usually open, but his gaze is glassy and seems to float in space. As when waking up, the somnambulist has no memories of his behavioral manifestations during sleep.

Sleep disorder most often occurs in middle childhood and early adolescence. Approximately 15% of children between the ages of 4 and 12 experience night walking.

Usually, the sleep disorder resolves on its own by late adolescence. However, in about 10% of cases, the condition appears during the teenage years.

What are the symptoms?

Attacks range from quietly walking around the room to excited running or attempts to escape. The movements of sleepwalkers are more often clumsy. Their eyes are usually open and the gaze is glassy, ​​with the affected person quietly wandering around the house or apartment.

During an attack of nocturnalism, a person may answer questions as if the answers are slow, most often they do not have meaningful phraseology. If the affected person goes back to bed without waking up, he usually has no memory of his behavior.

Older children wake up more easily at the end of an attack and are often distressed by their behavior, especially if it is inappropriate. Instead of walking, some children perform repetitive coordinated movements such as ironing their pajamas with their hands. The child may begin to urinate at night as a result of the sleep disorder.

The condition is not associated with previous sleep disorders, sleeping in a separate room, or other conditions such as achluophobia /fear of the dark/ or angry outbursts.

What are the reasons?

Genetic factors

Noctambulism occurs more often in identical twins and is 10 times more likely to occur if there is a family history of it.

Environmental factors

Sleep deprivation, the affected person falls asleep and wakes up chaotically, not observing sleep hygiene, fever, stress, magnesium deficiency and alcohol intoxication can cause somnabulism.

Drugs for example sedatives/hypnotics – drugs that help you fall asleep, neuroleptics – drugs used to treat psychosis, minor tranquilizers – drugs preparations with a calming effect, stimulants – drugs that increase activity and antihistamines – used to treat allergies can also become the cause of the sleep disorder.

Physiological factors

Longer sleep duration also increases REM sleep time, which may be a factor in the increased incidence of the condition in children.

Conditions such as pregnancy and menstruation can also increase the frequency of nocturnal walking.

Treatment of sleepwalking

The following measures can be taken for a person who suffers from this type of sleep disorder:

• He should be allowed enough sleep;
• He should meditate or do relaxation exercises;
• He should avoid any kind of stimulation visually or aurally before going to bed;
• Keep the sleeping room free of any sharp objects and those that could harm the somnabula;
• It is recommended that the affected sleep in a room on the ground floor if possible. Bunk beds should be avoided to prevent falls.
• Doors and windows should be locked;
• Remove any objects from the bedroom floor as any toys or other objects present a hazard from injury;
• Cover the windows with thick curtains;
• Place an alarm or bell on the bedroom door and, if necessary, on the windows.

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