Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism is characterized by repetitive episodes of motor activity during sleep, such as getting out of bed, stretching, walking and similar activities. The person, during these activities is awake because their eyes are usually open, but is considered to be for sleeping.
Episodes of sleepwalking most often occur during the first third of the night, during the deep phase of sleep. Episodes can last from several minutes up to an hour, but on average they last about 15 minutes. Sleepwalker seem to be awake, but most of the time they respond to the call from another person. Also, these people are not aware of the sleepwalk experience and do not remember that they got up at night and carried out any activities.
It seems that sleepwalking has a genetic component. This condition is 10 times more common among close relatives that sleepwalk, than the general population. These families also tend to sleep deeper and stronger.
Sleepwalking can be triggered by a fever, which directly affects the nervous system, general disease, alcohol use, sleep deprivation and emotional stress. Hormonal changes that occur during adolescence, menstruation and pregnancy, can be triggers for somnambulism. Episodes of sleepwalking often occur during psychological stress.
Somnambulism symptoms include:
- Recurrent episodes of getting out of bed while sleeping.
- No response to calls for communication from another person.
- Unconsciousness and no recollection of those activities.