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:
- 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.
- Or lifestyle changes to improve sleep habits.
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.
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:
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:
- 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:
- Learn new coping skills to manage stress and sleepwalking factors;
- 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:
- 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:
- Or cause concern.
Certain medications can:
- Cause sleepwalking in adults;
- Or increase the frequency and severity of these disturbance episodes.
These medications include:
- And medications used to treat psychiatric disorders.
These medications can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. They regulate the sleep-wake cycle, including:
- 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:
- Seek help;
- 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:
- 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:
- And lifestyle changes.
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:
– or bump into objects.
It leads to bruises, cuts, fractures, or other injuries.
|Individuals with this disorder can unknowingly engage in dangerous activities such as:
– driving a car;
– or using power tools.
It can cause serious accidents.
|Sleepwalkers wander outside and become lost, putting themselves in danger from:
– and other hazards.
|Sleepwalkers can act out violently, either towards themselves or others. It can lead to physical harm.
|These people can engage in embarrassing or inappropriate behaviors, such as:
– urinating in public;
– or removing clothing.
|These sleepwalking side effects can lead to:
– excessive daytime sleepiness;
– poor performance at work or school;
– and other negative consequences.
|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:
- 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:
- sleep apnea;
- or anxiety.
- What are some common triggers of sleepwalking?
Common triggers of sleepwalking include:
- sleep deprivation;
- alcohol consumption;
- 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:
- 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.