What was your most interesting sleepwalking experience

Sleepwalking: Dangerous wandering in deep sleep

Affected more children than adults

Sleepwalking, called “somnambulism” in medical jargon (from Latin somnus equals sleep and ambular equals wander), is a sleep disorder that is more common in children, as is sometimes assumed. Doctors estimate that around ten to 30 percent of all children will experience a sleepwalking episode at least once in their life. When you reach puberty, your sleepwalking will noticeably decrease. The phenomenon occurs much less frequently in adults. Around one to seven percent wander around at least once at night.

Different causes and triggers

Doctors and sleep researchers blame several causes for sleepwalking. “One factor that plays a role in sleepwalking is the maturity of the central nervous system. This also explains why there are significantly more children than adults among the nocturnal sleepwalkers, ”said Dr. Ursula Marschall, senior physician at Barmer. During sleepwalking, one area of ​​the brain wakes up while the other continues to sleep. These are the results of studies in which the nocturnal brain activity of test persons was measured using electroencephalography (). The areas of the brain that are responsible for movement were exactly as active as when they were awake. Other areas of the brain that are responsible for storing memories or for perceiving the environment, for example, remained in deep sleep, according to the measurements. This explains why sleepwalkers don't remember anything after their nightly hike.

Risk factors stress and emotional distress

In adulthood, however, sleepwalking is often associated with stress, emotional distress or lack of sleep. Excessive alcohol consumption or certain medications are also considered triggers. In addition, an increase in sleepwalking with family history was identified. “In any case, a qualified doctor should be consulted who can get to the bottom of the physical and psychological causes of sleepwalking. There could also be diseases such as epilepsy, brain diseases or a mental illness that need targeted treatment, ”advises Marschall. Relaxation exercises before bed can also help. Progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training or yoga are ideal here. Information on certain courses is available from the health insurance companies.

Sleepwalkers don't wake up

Incidentally, you shouldn't yell at sleepwalkers and wake them up. Many are frightened, react confused and the risk of accidents increases. It is better to try carefully and calmly to maneuver the person back into bed. In order to avoid injuries and accidents, there should be no tripping hazards lying around and no fragile objects in the apartment. Secure stairs and lock windows and doors before going to bed.