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Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disorder characterized by complex behaviors performed during non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These behaviors can range from sitting up in bed to walking around the house. Sleepwalkers may appear awake but are, in fact, in a state of partial arousal from deep sleep. Sleepwalking can be triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, fever, certain medications, and underlying sleep disorders.
Treatment for sleepwalking aims to address contributing factors and improve sleep quality:
Managing stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and counseling can help reduce the likelihood of sleepwalking episodes.
Creating a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine can stabilize sleep patterns, reducing the chances of sleepwalking.
Make the sleep environment safe by removing obstacles and potential hazards that a sleepwalker might encounter during episodes. Installing gates or locks on doors can help prevent wandering.
Manage Underlying Issues
Addressing and treating any underlying sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder, can alleviate sleepwalking.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Reducing the consumption of alcohol and caffeine, especially close to bedtime, can minimize sleep disruptions and improve sleep quality.
In some cases, a healthcare provider may consider medication, but it’s usually a last resort and is reserved for severe or dangerous sleepwalking episodes.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT may be used to address stress or anxiety-related triggers of sleepwalking. It can help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms.
It’s important to understand that sleepwalking can pose safety risks, both to the sleepwalker and others. In cases of severe or potentially dangerous sleepwalking, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider or a sleep specialist. They can help identify potential underlying causes and develop personalized strategies to manage and reduce sleepwalking episodes, ensuring a safer and more restful night’s sleep.
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