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Why do people walk in a sleep?
A man can really stand up from a bed in the middle of the night and go somewhere or start doing trivial domestic activities (sometimes, even dangerous though). Earlier, people preferred to stay away from such weirdoes because they used to consider that they had a relationship to black magic, or the Moon had a an odd influence on them.
Nowadays, it is known that sleepwalking (it is also called somnambulism, noctambulism or lunacy) is one of sleep disorders from parasomnia’s family (it is a group of sleep disorders which are characterized by unnatural movements, emotions and perceptions during human’s sleep) which can change human’s consciousness, perception and pain threshold for some time.
The main reason for it is that a human’s brain cannot wake up fully from a Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep stage when a body has already done it. That is why a man repeats all the movements from his/her dream in reality.
It is to be taken into consideration that sleepwalking is not a separate illness; it is a symptom of some more serious one (for example, cerebropathy (a disease of a brain) or epilepsy). Sleepwalking itself is not the case of genetic predisposition. So, you don’t have to worry if some of your parents had it. Although if somnambulism is one of the symptoms of some disease (epilepsy, for example), a child can inherit it from his/her parents.
As a rule, a man walks in a sleep once in a night when his/her brain is in a NREM slow wave sleep stage from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. There are more sleepwalkers among children (3-7 year-old; boys in particular) than adults. A person can just sit or stand on a bed or be busy with everyday domestic affairs (cleaning up a house/apartment, laundering, cooking, etc.). Meanwhile, he/she looks like a normal wakeful person. A man can make rather sound decisions in such a state as well as answer and ask questions. There are cases when sleepwalkers spoke foreign languages they did not know in waking life and recited poetry they had never heard before.
Some woman was browsing the Internet while actually being asleep. She logged in her e-mail and sent the invitations to everybody to call in some time. And some nurse boy discovered an artist’s talent in himself due to his sleepwalking.
However, a person’s night activities can be rather dangerous not only for his/her life, but for lives of the people around. Some of them drive a car while they are actually asleep or take a window as a door. After they are done, they usually return to their beds. But some sleepwalkers can fall asleep in quite unusual places after walking around. In the morning, they will be very surprised and confused at finding themselves there because usually they do not remember anything about their strange night travelling.
That is why it is one of the causes of crimes among which are homicides, assaults and sexual harassments. In such cases, the court usually delivers the verdict of either non-insane automatism (acquittal) or insane automatism (a verdict of not guilty according to the reason of insanity).
The same happened to Kenneth Parks in 1987. Then, he was 23 years old. During sleepwalking, he took a car, drove about 20 miles to his wife’s parents’ house, knifed his mother-in-law and tried to suffocate his father-in-law. He was acquitted by the court’s decision.
What are the symptoms of sleepwalking?
A man often opens his/her eyes while being asleep.
A man looks like a wakeful one, although there may be a blank look on his/her face.
A man does not remember his/her night adventures.
A man does some activity too scrupulously.
A man may behave inappropriately.
A man talks and screams in a sleep.
It is difficult to wake a man up. If someone tries to do it, a man can become very aggressive.
What these symptoms are caused by?
Alcohol and drugs.
Some mental disorders.
Age (children have more chances to become sleepwalkers than adults, although the chances decrease as they grow older).
Sleep apnea (It is a condition when it is impossible for a man to breathe while he/she is sleeping).
Cerebropathy (a disease of a brain).
Circadian rhythm sleep disorder.
What can be done if you or somebody else you care about is a sleepwalker?
Take precautionary measures before going to bed: hide all subjects and substances which can do harm; lock all windows and doors.
Stop using anti-depressants.
Keep to a healthy lifestyle and sleeping schedule.
Avoid stressful situations.
Run medical test to detect if there is some illness which can be shown through sleepwalking.
Start taking sedatives and hypnotics only if your doctor prescribed them! Do not make such a decision on your own!
Try hypnosis (some people assure that it is really a helpful method).
Apply to a doctor if you walk in a sleep often or you do dangerous things during this process.
Sleep Eating Disorder is a form of sleepwalking when a person eats in a sleep being unaware that he/she is doing it.
Sleep Eating Disorder can cause obesity, problems with digestion and, in extreme cases, burns and fires because people who suffer from this disorder often cook before eating (being unaware of it too). It is to be treated in the same way as sleepwalking.