There are many myths and beliefs associated with sleepwalkers and there are numerous doubts about how to act when seeing someone walking or performing different daily actions when they are supposedly asleep. The most frequent question that arises is whether or not to wake up a sleepwalker and what happens if you finally consider waking him up. So, if a member of the family gets up at night in your house and you are not sure how to act, in this article we explain what sleepwalking is and we give you some tips to overcome an episode of this type satisfactorily and without negative consequences.
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What is sleepwalking
Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that experts include in the group of parasomnias, a set of very varied alterations that manifest themselves in the form of unwanted behaviors that take place while we sleep. As indicated by a study carried out by researchers at Stanford University (USA) and published in the prestigious journal Neurology , sleepwalking is a more frequent disorder than is believed, since, according to the data collected in the study, In the United States alone, more than a million people had had an episode of sleepwalking in the last year. We point out that sleepwalking mainly affects children, especially in children between the ages of 4 and 8 or 10, the episodes usually remit when they reach adolescence. When they are young, it is common for sleepwalking children to wake up crying. However, adults and older people can also suffer from them and, in these cases, the causes can be diverse. Fatigue, stress and anxiety, excessive alcohol consumption or some type of respiratory disorder or cognitive impairment may be behind episodes of sleepwalking in adults.
The symptoms of sleepwalking are clearly recognizable:
- The person acts asleep as if he were awake.
- You can get up and sit up in bed.
- Wander in dreams around the house.
- Perform more or less complex actions, from going to the bathroom, getting dressed or eating something, to opening the door and leaving the house, walking or using a car (less frequent situations, but those that entail greater danger).
Sleepwalkers remain wide-eyed , although the expression of their “lost” gaze indicates that they are not really fully conscious. So, if you’re wondering what happens if you wake up someone who’s sleeping, you should know that it ‘s common for sleepwalkers to talk or mumble , though usually in disjointed or meaningless phrases. The episodes usually occur after a few hours after the onset of sleep and last only a few minutes, no more than ten, although there are cases in which they are longer. Keep in mind that you should always wake him up gently.
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What happens if you wake up a sleepwalker?
Are you wondering if it is dangerous to wake up a sleepwalker? In the first place, it must be said that a sleepwalker does not have to scare us, since it is not dangerous. Whether or not to wake her up will depend on the different circumstances. In most cases, it will not be necessary and it will be enough to gently direct the sleepwalker back to his bed, but, on other occasions, it may be necessary to wake him up because he is at risk .. You may be about to fall down some stairs or trip over some furniture, you may be lighting the kitchen fire or you may have just opened the door to go outside. Therefore, if you think you should wake up a sleepwalker, always do it carefully, without shouting or shaking, not because it is dangerous, but because you would scare him (just as if you were suddenly woken up while asleep in bed).
If you wake him up gently, nothing will happen , the person will simply be confused for a few minutes, disoriented, because he will not understand what he is doing there instead of sleeping peacefully in his bed. Only in exceptional cases can a sleepwalker show some aggressiveness in their behavior, but, in principle, it is the result of their own confusion. Generally, once he wakes up, he will listen to you and go back to his bed and most likely he will not remember anything that happened when he wakes up in the morning.
What to do with a sleepwalker
As we have said, sleepwalking, especially in children, is a temporary sleep disorder, whose episodes subside as they grow, this is called childhood sleepwalking. There are many children who wake up sleepwalking, that is why you should try to treat the situation normally, consulting with specialists : doctors, pediatricians, neurologists and experts in sleep medicine, if these episodes are repeated too often (more than twice per week) or are associated with other symptoms that may indicate the presence of other diseases, such as depression or breathing problems (sleep apnea). It is true that there are numbers of children who wake up sleepwalking.
If you live with a sleepwalker, it is important to achieve the safest possible environment in the room where they sleep and in the house in general, to avoid accidents and dangerous situations . For example:
- You must prevent sleepwalking children from sleeping in bunk beds.
- Close cabinets where there may be dangerous substances (cleaning cabinet).
- It is important not to leave the house keys in the door (it could open it).
- Place protective railings on stairs, among others.
These are safety measures that should be taken into account to prevent the sleepwalker from injuring himself when he sleeps. And, if she gets up at night, she tries to direct him lovingly to her bed and the next day do not dramatize what happened so as not to scare her or cause her to feel ashamed or guilty.
Also, if you want more details on how to treat a sleepwalker , at OneHOWTO we offer you more tips on how to act in this type of situation. Good behavior will help the person who suffers from it. And while sleepwalking can’t magically go away, it can be reduced with certain practices. So, do not miss this article that we provide you on How to avoid sleepwalking .
This article is merely informative, at oneHOWTO we do not have the power to prescribe any medical treatment or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to go to a doctor in the event of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.