Sleepwalking is a mysterious behavior.
Neurologists aren’t sure what combination of genetic predisposition and environmental disturbance launches people out of bed. But brain scans tell us that it happens during the non-REM (non-dreaming) stage of sleep and is linked to anxiety, stress, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Almost 30 per cent of people report sleepwalking, most as children, though four per cent still take a stroll as an adult. In kids, it doesn’t generally signal a psychological or physical problem. But a physician’s help usually is needed for adults to determine if sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or chronic stress prevents the deep REM sleep needed for full restoration of brain function. In the meantime:
For protection (kids and adults): Seal windows; clear floors; install stairway safety gates; no bunk beds; and keep car keys and firearms out of reach.
For prevention: Try scheduled awakening. Keep a log of the time your child — or an adult — falls asleep and when sleepwalking starts. Then, for several nights, rouse the sleepwalker 15 minutes before the expected sleepwalk. Yes, we know this can be tough on you, but so are the consequences of sleepwalking. Don’t wake up your subject completely, just disturb or change the sleep cycle, and hopefully night-time strolls will end.
King Features Syndicate