How does sleepwalking manifest in adults and is it possible to get rid of it yourself
- 1 Causes of somnambulism
- 2 How does sleepwalking manifest
- 3 Treatment of sleepwalking
- 4 How to deal with sleepwalking and protect a sleepwalker?
Somnambulism – the name of pathology, derived from the two Latin words somnus – “sleep” and ambulo – “move around”, literally – sleepwalking. In everyday life, another term is often used – sleepwalking. In the old days it was believed that the problem is directly related to the activity of the moon. Today it is scientifically justified that the phases of the moon do not affect a person enough to provoke such a phenomenon.
Causes of somnambulism
Until now, it has not been established exactly what are the causes of sleepwalking in adults. Inadequate behavior in sleep is most often associated with impaired function of the nervous system.
Many studies have been conducted, the results of which allowed us to identify some patterns. In most cases, a certain age group is susceptible to sleepwalking as a disease – children from 4 to 10 years old, since the children’s nervous system is not fully formed and is more susceptible to the effects of negative external factors. It was also found that sleepwalking in children is often associated with a change in sleep patterns (for example, moving to another time zone).
Walking during sleep is also observed among adolescents in puberty (from 10-12 to 18 years), when the body is emotionally unstable. By the age of 20, the sexual system is formed completely, and most young men and women forget about their “night adventures”.
Consider, because of what is often sleepwalking:
- Constant lack of sleep. Continuous sound sleep is vital for the body. Due to increased loads, frequent sleep deprivation, sleep in fragments during the day without a good rest at night, the nervous system is depleted from overstrain.
- Brain diseases (benign and cancerous tumors). The tumor builds up pressure on a certain part of the brain, interfering with its normal functioning. This can provoke sleep disturbances, alternating with memory lapses, which is why sleepwalking occurs in adults.
- Disorders of a neurological nature. The group of these pathologies is very extensive, but any of them can provoke sleepwalking. For example, an obsessive state, when one single thought firmly settles in the head, an endless cycle of thinking through its solution causes a psychosis, a sleep disorder.
- Diseases of the psyche in a chronic form – epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease.
- Pathology of various organs, autonomic disorders. Aneurysms, disorders of the heart muscle, diabetes, asthma can trigger somnambulism in adults.
- Mechanical damage to the head – traumatic brain injury, brain injuries can disrupt the brain, causing sleep disorders.
- Difficult pregnancy sometimes is a circumstance leading to walking in a dream.
- Violation of the regime and diet. Research has confirmed that eating a good dinner right before bedtime has a very negative effect on a night’s rest – this often causes nightmares, because of which a person may start walking in his sleep. Hard diets with a lack of beneficial trace elements (magnesium) also lead to sleep disorders.
- Excessive emotionality and extreme impressionability of some people, associated with the psycho-type of a person, can be the cause of slumbering.
- Forced somnambulism. The use of alcoholic beverages, narcotic substances, overdose of drugs cause hallucinations, which lead to sleepwalking.
Also caused by prolonged stressful states. In the modern world, a person constantly faces small troubles and feelings, but stress as a chronic phenomenon significantly affects sleep. Due to heightened anxiety, nightmares or dreams may occur in which a person is looking for a solution to a problem, and from this he can start walking in a dream, perform certain manipulations.
Important! During somnambulistic sleep, the pain threshold is turned off for a person, he does not feel fear, his movements are slow, his speech is sometimes slowed down, incoherent, his eyes are open, his pupils are dilated.
How does sleepwalking manifest
Symptoms of somnambulism are pronounced, it is impossible to confuse it with other sleep disorders. Signs of sleepwalking are varied, but living in the same house with a lunatic simply cannot fail to notice them.
Typical symptoms of sleepwalking are:
- Anxiety sleep, expressed in trembling of limbs, smacking, swallowing saliva, tongue tingling.
- Talking in a dream – a patient with somnambulism sometimes does not just mumble something under his breath, he can scream or enter into polemics with his opponent, while his eyes are open, but his eyes are “glassy” and concentrated at one point. Such symptoms are typical for choleric with a hot-tempered character.
- Teeth grinding is also sometimes a manifestation of somnambulism.
- Walking in a dream is the most obvious sign of sleepwalking. Sometimes the patient can just sit in bed, but often the lunatic begins to wander around the house and perform the usual household activities (turn on the kettle, get dressed, open the refrigerator or the air vent). If the front door is not closed, the somnambulist may even go outside.
In the morning the lunatic will not remember the attack of sleepwalking, no matter what the arguments and facts are given to him. Pathology is manifested and proceeds in all different ways. The attack can happen only once or be an extremely rare condition against the background of specific circumstances (severe stress, medication), while others have a crawl – a frequent phenomenon that occurs up to several times in one night.
When an attack occurs
Attacks of somnambulism always occur in the phase of deep sleep – two hours after the person completely falls asleep. In this stage, the dream proceeds without dreams, or they are dim. When conducting research, electroencephalograms showed that with a short attack, the patient is always in a deep sleep phase, without leaving it. During a long episode, the patient was awake or in a state of drowsiness.
The duration and symptoms of attacks varies. In the most loyal form, a person simply assumes a sitting position, begins to mumble something indistinctly, after going to bed and falls asleep again. With prolonged seizures, walking in a dream often happens; a lunatic makes any movements with open eyes, a glassy gaze, and an expressionless face.
Trying to wake a somnambulist during an attack is strictly prohibited. A person, suddenly waking up outside of his bed, can get very scared, get hysterical, or get psychological trauma. It can be unsafe for others – there is the concept of “aggressive sleepwalking,” expressed in a fit of anxiety lunatic towards those who are near him at the time of the unnatural exit from the state.
How does the attack
Being in a state of somnambulism, the patient is well-versed in the familiar environment. Moreover, he sees everything around him objects, bypasses the obstacles, not bumping into them. The lunatic hears everything and can even answer the simple question quite perfectly.
Obviously, during the period of an attack, the brain perceives and partially analyzes incoming external signals, retrieves information about surrounding objects from the memory, and the manipulations that need to be done with them – press the switch button to turn on the light, pull the handle, open the vent window, press the lever to flush the water in the toilet.
Sometimes an attack ends as suddenly as it began. The patient after an episode of somnambulism immediately goes to bed, it does not always happen in the usual place for this (in the bathroom, in the hallway), and in the morning the lunatic cannot understand how it turned out to be. A person may vaguely remember about his sleepwalking, but most often he does not remember anything. There is no remorse and torment, because the patient did not give an account of his actions.
In a somnambulistic dream, a person is capable of committing rather serious morally moral mistakes. The most striking example is the case when a girl shot a father from a revolver under her arm at the time of a sleepwalking attack. The case occurred in the United States in 1961, is considered unique and is included in the parasomnias handbooks.
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Treatment of sleepwalking
Sleepwalking in adults can be treated with frequent and pronounced episodes, is to eliminate the causes of stress as the main factor in pathology. Treatment of sleepwalking in adults is impossible without examination by a psychiatrist. It is the psychiatrist who prescribes special medications for the indications – sedatives, antidepressants, tranquilizers.
Important! The selection of drugs is strictly individual, self-treatment is strictly prohibited.
After a course of drugs, the further management of the patient is transferred to the psychotherapist. The doctor conducts sessions, which determines the causes of sleepwalking, gives a certain psychological setting, aimed at addressing the underlying causes of stress, sometimes recommended hypnosis sessions.
The question of how to treat sleepwalking, people have long been asked. In ancient times, doctors tried to treat lunatics with herbal decoctions, other popular methods, such therapy did not give positive results.
Today, with a one-time manifestation of snowing, you should not fall into panic, it is enough to establish the cause, it is often obvious, without outside intervention, to attract loved ones so that they can observe the night-time behavior of a lunatic. With frequent episodes of slithering, persistent attempts by the somnambulist to leave the house on the street, the help of medical specialists is required.
There is no specific methodology, however, it is possible and necessary to fight with frequent bouts of sleepwalking.
The main methods of how to get rid of sleepwalking:
- exclusion of traumatic factors, stressful situations, nervous tension;
- tracking, normalization of sleep – insomnia, irregular, discontinuous sleep cause disruptions in the body, leading to walking in a dream;
- supervision at the neuropathologist, the psychiatrist, the psychotherapist, the somnolog;
- spa treatment in sanatoria dealing with sleep pathologies;
- taking medications as prescribed by the attending physician.
As a disease, sleepwalking is inherently not dangerous for the psyche or the functioning of vital organs. Danger is represented by actions that a lunatic commits at the time of an attack — an attempt to start a car, turn the gas stove valve, but not set fire to gas — such actions can injure and even cripple both the lunatic and the people around them.
How to deal with sleepwalking and protect a sleepwalker?
What if someone from the household suffers from sleepwalking? Here are some simple recommendations:
- Put a wet rag on the floor next to the bed. Getting up on her bare feet, a lunatic will immediately wake up and lie back in bed.
- Set the alarm before bedtime every two hours. Turning off the alarm and, accordingly, waking up, you can control sleep cycles.
- Install grilles on the windows to prevent the lunatic from falling out with frequent episodes of the disease.
- Before going to bed, turn off all electrical appliances from the sockets, make the gas stove valve removable, and clean it overnight.
- Close the front door to all locks (set the lock with the opening of the key on both sides, hide the key at night).
- Do not watch horror films, TV shows with a negative broadcasting format (description of tragic events and sad news) before going to bed.
- To exclude sports and the use of any food at a later time before bedtime.
Important! You can not wake up a sleepwalker. You need to silently take his hand and lead him back to bed.
Walking in a dream is a common phenomenon, it does not always require medical intervention, sometimes it is enough to watch a person and establish the reasons for his not quite adequate sleepy behavior. If there are no aggravating factors in the form of stress and concomitant mental pathologies, the disease disappears.