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All About Sleepwalking In Adults

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Sleepwalking in adults is a sleep disturbance that causes an individual to engage in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness while they are still asleep. It affects up to four percent of adults.  

Sleepwalking episodes can last from a few seconds to up to an hour. The precise reasons of this disorder are not fully understood. But there are a variety of factors that can contribute to its onset, including:

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • And certain medications

Fortunately, there are several strategies to manage sleepwalking in adults, including:

  • Improving sleep hygiene
  • Reducing stress 
  • And in some cases, taking medication or therapy

Our comprehensive guide on sleepwalking in adults is a must-read resource. It will help you better understand and manage to sleepwalk effectively. We will explore:

  • The various factors that can trigger sleepwalking;
  • The potential side effects and dangers of  sleepwalking;
  • And the various treatment options.

What Is Somnambulism?

Somnambulism, or sleepwalking, is a sleep disorder characterized by complex motor behaviors and actions during non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It is more common in males than females.

During a sleepwalking episode, the person can:

  • Sit up;
  • Walk around;
  • Perform routine activities;
  • Or engage in more complex behaviors such as cooking, cleaning, or even driving a car.

It usually occurs in the first third of the night during the deeper stages of non-REM sleep. And it can last anywhere from a few seconds to half an hour. 

Sleepwalkers can have their eyes open. But they are unresponsive to stimuli and can not remember the episode upon waking up. And they can sometimes injure themselves during an episode.  

Sleepwalking in adults can be diagnosed through a sleep study called a polysomnography. Once diagnosed, treatment options can include:

  • Medication;
  • Therapy;
  • Or lifestyle changes to improve sleep habits. 

sleepwalking symptoms

Sleepwalking Symptoms

Sleepwalking is not usually a sign of a serious medical condition. But it can be a sign of an underlying psychological issue. Here are some of the most common symptoms of sleepwalking in adults:

  • Getting up and walking around while still asleep.
  • Performing complex tasks, such as cooking or driving a car, while still asleep.
  • Having a blank or confused facial expression while sleepwalking.
  • Being difficult to wake up during a sleepwalking episode.
  • Having no memory of the sleepwalking episode upon waking up.
  • Engaging in inappropriate or dangerous behaviors during this attack. They are leaving the house or driving a car.
  • Talking or mumbling while sleepwalking.
  • Sitting up in bed and appearing to be awake but still asleep.

People who suffer from this disorder can experience:

  • Daytime sleepiness;
  • And other sleep-related problems.

By working with a healthcare provider, individuals with sleepwalking can learn how to:

  • Manage their symptoms;
  • And prevent harm to themselves or others during an episode.

What Causes Sleepwalking In Adults?

One of the most common causes is genetics. Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of sleepwalking are likelier to experience these episodes. 

Other factors triggering adult sleepwalking include sleep deprivation, anxiety, and stress. Irregular sleep schedules, such as those caused by shift work or jet lag, can also disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle and lead to this disorder.

Certain medical conditions can also cause this disorder. They are fever, obstructive sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.

Certain neurological conditions can also increase the risk of sleepwalking. They can be epilepsy, and migraines  Alcohol and drug use can also increase the likelihood of this disorder. 

It can be more common during periods of hormonal changes, such as:

  • During pregnancy;
  • Or menopause. 

It can also be more common in people with a history of head injury or concussion. Let’s consider these sleepwalking causes in more detail:

1. Genetics

The exact genetic mechanisms that cause this disorder in adults are not fully understood. But research suggests that genetics can play a main role in the disorder development. Some studies have identified specific genetic mutations and variations. They can contribute to an increased risk of sleepwalking.

One gene that refers to this disorder is the CHRNA2 gene. It is involved in the brain regulation of certain neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter. It is responsible for:

  • Sleep-wake cycle regulation;
  • And mutations in the CHRNA2 gene. 

Another gene that refers to somnambulism causes is the HLA gene. It regulates the immune system’s response to infection and inflammation. 

Studies have suggested that certain variations in the HLA gene can increase the risk of sleepwalking. They can affect the regulation of the immune system in the brain.

Thus, genetic counseling can be a helpful resource. It is designed for individuals with a family history of the disorder. This helps:

  • Identify potential genetic risk factors;
  • And develop a plan for managing the condition.

2. Stress and anxiety

When an individual with sleepwalking experiences high levels of anxiety and stress, it can disrupt:

  • Their normal sleep patterns;
  • And increase the likelihood of these episodes. 

Stress and anxiety can also trigger other sleep disorders, such as insomnia. It can further disrupt sleep and increase the risk of sleepwalking.

To address stress and anxiety-related sleepwalking, it is important to:

  • Identify;
  • And address the underlying psychological factors. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common treatment. It aims for addressing the emotional triggers of this disorder. This therapy helps individuals:

  1. Learn new coping skills to manage stress and sleepwalking factors;
  2. And identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs due to sleepwalking.

3. Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a well-known somnambulism cause in adults. When an individual is sleep-deprived, it can:

  • Disrupt their normal sleep patterns;
  • And increase the likelihood of sleepwalking episodes.

To prevent these episodes due to sleep deprivation, it is important to:

  • Establish;
  • And maintain a regular sleep schedule. 

This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and drugs that can interfere with sleep is also important.

Creating a relaxing sleep environment is helpful in the treatment of this somnambulism cause. This includes:

  • Reducing noise and light in the bedroom;
  • Using comfortable bedding and pillows;
  • And keeping the room at a comfortable temperature.

Medication or therapy can be necessary to manage the condition if an individual continues to experience this disorder episodes despite making lifestyle changes. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if these episodes are:

  • Frequent;
  • Disruptive;
  • Or cause concern.

4. Medications

Certain medications can:

  • Cause sleepwalking in adults;
  • Or increase the frequency and severity of these disturbance episodes. 

These medications include:

  • Sedatives;
  • Hypnotics;
  • And medications used to treat psychiatric disorders.

These medications can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. They regulate the sleep-wake cycle, including:

  • Dopamine;
  • Serotonin;
  • And gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). 

They can also affect the balance between:

  • Rapid eye movement;
  • And non-rapid eye movement sleep. 

In some cases, medications used to treat other sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome, can also contribute to the development of this disturbance. These medications can affect the levels of dopamine in the brain.

If an individual is experiencing sleepwalking side effects as a result of medication use, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They will adjust:

  • Medication dosage;
  • Switch to a different medication;
  • Or provide other treatments to help manage the sleepwalking episodes.

5. Substance abuse

Substance abuse, particularly alcohol, and certain drugs can increase this disorder’s development. Alcohol can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain that:

  • Regulate the sleep-wake cycle;
  • As well as disrupt REM and NREM sleep patterns. 

Illicit drugs can:

  • Have an impact on sleep patterns;
  • And increase the risk of sleepwalking attacks.

If a person is experiencing this disturbance as a result of substance abuse, it is important to: 

  1. Seek help;
  2. And support for addiction treatment.

6. Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a medical condition. It is a neurological disorder characterized by an uncomfortable sensation in the legs. It can only be relieved by movement. 

This makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It leads to sleep deprivation and an increased risk of sleepwalking attacks.

Additionally, it is often associated with periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). It involves involuntary limb movements during sleep. These movements can disrupt:

  • Sleep;
  • And increase the likelihood of sleepwalking in adults.

Treatment options for RLS can include medications such as:

  • Dopamine agonists;
  • And iron supplements.

They will help alleviate symptoms and improve sleep quality. But you should take these medicines just on the advice of your doctor.

    7. Medical conditions

Medical conditions that affect the brain increase the risk of sleepwalking in adults. They can include:

Some neurological conditions can also be associated with sleepwalking, such as:

It is vital to seek treatment for the underlying condition. Treatment options can include:

  • Medication;
  • Therapy;
  • And lifestyle changes. 

somnambulism causes

What Can Be The Dangers Of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking can be dangerous because:

  • Individuals who sleepwalk are not fully conscious;
  • And they can engage in potentially harmful behaviors without realizing it. 

Here is a more detailed explanation of the dangers of sleeepwalking:

  • Injury
Sleepwalkers can:

– trip;

– fall;

– or bump into objects. 

It leads to bruises, cuts, fractures, or other injuries.

  • Accidents
Individuals with this disorder can unknowingly engage in dangerous activities such as:

– driving a car;

– cooking;

– or using power tools.

It can cause serious accidents.

  • Wandering
Sleepwalkers wander outside and become lost, putting themselves in danger from:

– traffic;

– weather;

– and other hazards.

  • Violence
Sleepwalkers can act out violently, either towards themselves or others. It can lead to physical harm.
  • Embarrassment
These people can engage in embarrassing or inappropriate behaviors, such as:

– urinating in public;

– or removing clothing.

  • Disruption of sleep
These sleepwalking side effects can lead to:

– excessive daytime sleepiness;

– poor performance at work or school;

– and other negative consequences.

  • Reduced quality of life
It can negatively impact a person’s quality of life, causing:
– decreased social;– and occupational functioning.

How Can Lone Star Neurology Doctors Help You?

Lone Star Neurology doctors will help you with determining somnambulism causes and treatment by providing:

  • Comprehensive neurological evaluations;
  • And sleep studies to diagnose underlying medical conditions contributing to this behavior. 

They can also offer individualized treatment plans including:

  • Medication;
  • Therapy;
  • And lifestyle modifications to address the root cause of sleepwalking in adults. 

Additionally, the clinics provide support and education to help individuals and their families:

  • Better understanding and managing the condition improving their overall quality of life.

Are you or a loved one struggling with sleepwalking? Don’t suffer in silence any longer. Take the first step towards better sleep and a healthier life. Contact Lone Star Neurology Doctors today! 


  • Is sleepwalking a symptom of something?

Sleepwalking can be a symptom of other underlying medical or mental health conditions, such as:

  1. sleep apnea;
  2. depression;
  3. or anxiety.
  • What are some common triggers of sleepwalking?

Common triggers of sleepwalking include:

  1. sleep deprivation;
  2. stress;
  3. alcohol consumption;
  4. and certain medications.
  • Can sleepwalking be a symptom of Post-traumatic stress disorder?

Yes, sleepwalking can be a symptom of PTSD. It is particularly in individuals who experience trauma-related nightmares.

  • Can sleepwalking be a side effect of certain antibiotics?

Yes, it can be a side effect of certain antibiotics, such as:

  1.  zolpidem;
  2.  and some fluoroquinolones. 

These antibiotics can affect the central nervous system and disrupt sleep. 

  • At what age do people start sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking can start in childhood, typically between the ages of 4 and 8.  But it can occur at any age. 

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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