A Sleepwalker in the Family

Many people are familiar with the term ‘sleepwalking.’ The medical term for sleepwalking is called somnambulism. Many sleepwalkers have inherited it from their parents and it seems that it occurs in boys more than girls.

It is not unusual for a child with a high fever to get out of bed and wander around in a sleepwalking state. Whatever the case, never scold a child or person for sleepwalking.

What Happens When You Sleepwalk?
The sleepwalking state usually starts between two and three hours after the person has fallen asleep. If you walk into your child’s room to check on him during the night, you might find him setting up in bed. He might have a wild look about him with eyes open wide and gazing around the room. Many times the person will stare straight ahead. If you ask him a question, he will reply with a word or two, usually slurred.

Have you ever wondered how a sleepwalker seems to avoid furniture and other objects in their way? They usually walk around and seem coherent. Although their eyes are open, it is believed they are not aware of their surroundings. Some doctors believe that they are not asleep at all but in a trance-like state. The sleepwalker might open the refrigerator door and grab something to eat, walk around shutting doors, try to change their clothes or even walk out the front door.

How Long Does This State Last?
It may last as long as 15 minutes or more. It has been known to occur more than once during the night. If you can lead the person back to bed it is a good chance they will fall back into a normal sleep.

Is it Dangerous?
Only a small percentage of people actually hurt themselves or venture outside. But the ones that do get outside, it is very dangerous.

What Can Be Done About Sleepwalking?

First of all, let your doctor examine the sleepwalker to make sure there are no other problems going on.
Move any dangerous furniture out of the path of the sleepwalker.
Lock up firearms or dangerous weapons.
You may have to install a different lock on your doors that the sleepwalker cannot open.
Hang bells on the doorknob of the sleepwalker’s bedroom, bathroom door, etc., anywhere you think they might travel during the night that they shouldn’t.
You may have to lock up all chemicals, cleaning supplies, nail polish remover, etc.

Most of the time, with children, they will outgrow the sleepwalking stage but some continue to do it all of their life, although it doesn’t occur as often.

If you are an adult sleepwalker and it causes family disorder, ask your doctor to prescribe a mild sedative and talk with him about seeing a clinic for sleep disturbances.

October 3rd, 2012 - Posted in Wellness | | Comments Off

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