165014 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Sleepwalking


    Sleepwalking is a type of sleep disorder. A person who is sleepwalking may walk around or do other complex behaviors while still technically asleep. It may be as simple as sitting up in bed or as complex as leaving the house and going for a drive.


    It is not clear exactly what causes sleepwalking. Some people are more susceptible to sleepwalking. The sleepwalking may be triggered by:

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of sleepwalking include:
    • Family history of sleepwalking
    • Being a child (most common in preschool to preadolescence)
    • Problems that may disrupt sleep such as bed wetting or sleep apnea
    Hyperthyroidism is an abnormal condition of the thyroid. It can affect many of the body's systems, including glands in the brain that can interfere with proper sleep.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Along with walking during sleep, other symptoms can include:
    • Sitting up in bed and repeating certain movements (eg, rubbing eyes, fumbling with clothes)
    • Talking in your sleep
    • Difficulty arousing during a sleepwalking episode
    • Doing inappropriate behavior during a sleepwalking episode (eg, urinating in closets)
    • Becoming violent when a person tries to wake you
    • Not remembering the event


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked about your:
    • Family history
    • Fatigue
    • Medication
    • Underlying illness or stress
    Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist. You may need to have a sleep study done in a medical clinic.


    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

    Strategies to Prevent Injury

    Your doctor will help you prevent injury during sleepwalking by recommending that you:
    • Remove dangerous objects from your room
    • Keep doors and windows closed and locked


    Some cases of sleepwalking can be treated with hypnosis .


    Your doctor will ask you to keep track of what time of night the sleepwalking tends to occur. You then schedule a wake up just before the sleepwalking tends to occur. This may help stop the sleepwalking.


    These medications may be helpful in reducing the incidence of sleepwalking:
    • Sedative-hypnotics
    • Antidepressants


    To help reduce the chances of sleepwalking, take the following steps:
    • Increase the amount of time scheduled for sleep.
    • Avoid alcohol and certain medications that may trigger sleepwalking.
    • Have a regular bedtime routine.


    American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org/

    National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/


    About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/

    Better Sleep Council Canada http://www.bettersleep.ca/


    Sleepwalking. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated January 1, 2011. Accessed August 13, 2012.

    Guilleminault C, Kirisoglu C, Bao, G, et al. Adult chronic sleepwalking and its treatment based on polysomnography. Brain . 2005; 128:1062-1069.

    Guilleminault C, Palombini L, Pelayo R, Chervin RD. Sleepwalking and sleep terrors in prepubertal children: what triggers them?. Pediatrics . 2003;111:17-25.

    Hafeez ZH, Kalinowski CM. Somnambulism induced by quitapine: two case reports and a review of the literature. CNS Spectrums. 2007;12:910-912.

    Pressman MR. Factors that predispose, prime and precipitate NREM parasomnias in adults: clinical and forensic implications. Sleep Med Rev . 2007:11:5-30

    Sleepwalking. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/sleepwalking Accessed August 13, 2012.

    Sleepwalking. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/sleepwalking.html . Accessed August 13, 2012.

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