Updated: Aug 5, 2021
You must have heard about Sleepwalking, or at least encountered a funny situation where one of your siblings walked during their sleep, or even better, you watched the hilarious videos of the tiktoker celinasppokyboo. But have you ever wondered why our mind would be activated at such random moments only to do such weird and explainable actions?
What is Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking or somnambulism or noctambulism, is basically a sleep disorder, it belongs to the parasomnia* family It occurs during slow wave sleep stage, in a state of low consciousness, with performance of activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness. These activities might appear in talking, sitting up, walking to a room, consuming food, and cleaning, or driving a motor vehicle, can also manifest in violent gestures and grabbing at hallucinated objects. Some might start having conversations and hand on things to .... the void.
*parasomnias: disruptive sleep disorders.
Furthermore explanation of the stages of sleep.
Stage 1 non-REM sleep is the change from wakefulness to sleep. This period lasts for a few minutes, during which it occurs, relatively light sleep, your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow down, and your muscles relax with occasional twitches. Your brain waves begin to slow from their daytime wakefulness patterns.
Stage 2 non-REM sleep is a period of light sleep before you enter deeper sleep. Your body temperature drops and eye motion stops. You spend more of your repeated sleep cycles in stage 2 sleep than in other sleep stages.
Stage 3 non-REM sleep is the period of deep sleep that you need to feel refreshed in the morning. It occurs in longer periods during the first half of the night. Your heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels during sleep. Your muscles are relaxed and it may be difficult to awaken you. Brain waves become even slower. (at this stage sleepwalking occurs)
REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids. Your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams. As you age, you sleep less of your time in REM sleep.
How to recognize sleepwalking?
Normally the sleepwalker gets partial arousal during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, typically during the first third of the night. The actions during this period may seem as a dream-congruent motor behavior that may be simple or complex, the person can have an impaired reception of his environment, and might start planning or solving problems ... Irrationally, the events that happen during that period may seem as a dream, that may or may not be recalled when awake.
The sleepwalker's eyes are open but may appear as a glassy-eyed stare or blank expression and pupils are dilated. They are often disoriented, consequent to awakening: the sleepwalker may be confused and perplexed, and might not know why or how they got out of bed; however, the disorientation will fade within minutes. They may talk while sleepwalking, but the talk typically does not make sense to the observer. Basically, it would be hilarious to the one observing the sleepwalker.
The cause of sleepwalking is still unknown. A number of, as yet unproven, hypotheses are suggested for why it might occur, including: delay in the maturity of the central nervous system, increased slow wave sleep, sleep deprivation, fever, and excessive tiredness. It has also been noticed that sleepwalking can be triggered by a high level of anxiety and stress.
Is it dangerous? Is there a treatment?
Sleepwalking is generally not dangerous, but there have been some cases where some sleepwalkers injured themselves badly (you can injure yourself while sleepwalking: break some bones or get some cuts) and unfortunately there have been some deadly accidents registered due to sleepwalking, in general, it’s hardly ever dangerous, and no, there is no permanent remedy so far.
Sleepwalking is not as dangerous as it seems, but one must always try to stay safe, and make sure that, himself or a loved one that suffers from this sleep disorder is monitored at all sleeping times!