What Does Sleep Walking Mean?
An estimated 1 to 15 percent of the population has experienced an episode of sleepwalking, which occurs when a person walks and/or performs tasks while in a deep sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it's common for adults to sleepwalk, and is usually a result of sleep deprivation, the use of sedatives or alcohol and certain medications. It's much more prevalent in children, especially those ages 3 to 7, and health professionals don't believe sleepwalking is psychological.
Anything from sitting in bed with your eyes open to getting in your car and driving away is considered sleepwalking. Other symptoms include talking in your sleep; yelling (if the episode occurs while experiencing a night terror); not remembering the episode, and being unable to wake the sleepwalker. In many cases, sleepwalking can include performing daily tasks, like emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry, and it can often result in violent behavior because the sleepwalker may be experiencing a dream. If a loved one is experiencing a sleepwalking episode, it's important to try and wake them because it can sometimes be dangerous.
If a family member suffers from sleepwalking, it's important to create a safe sleeping environment to eliminate the possibility of harming themselves or others. You may need to use gates near the staircases during the night, and keep sharp objects out of reach.
Because lack of sleep is the most common cause for sleepwalking, it's imperative that you make sure you get between seven and nine hours each night. To prevent sleepwalking, create good sleep habits, such as following a routine before bed each night and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. You can unwind by listening to soothing music, enjoying a warm glass of milk and shutting down your electronics for the night.