Sleepwalking May Be Caused By Lack Of Sleep

New studies are showing that people who have a habit of sleepwalking are experiencing a lack of sleep. Antonio Zadra of the Universite de Montreal led a team of researchers to connect the dots from lack of sleep to sleepwalking. He said that people need to start going to bed at the normal time in order to avoid these late night strolls.

Sleepwalking is something that can be found in many kids – but it is common for them to outgrow it according to Dr. Vishesh Kapur the director of the University of Washinton Sleep Disorders Center at the Harborview Medical Center.

Zadra and his team evaluated 40 alleged sleepwalkers and referred them to the Sleep Research Center at Sacre-Coeur Hospital between August of 2003 and March of 2007. “Our study found that sleep deprivation can precipitate sleepwalking in predisposed individuals,” Zadra said.

Subjects who took part in the study agreed to have their baseline sleep patterns monitored during an initial all-night assessment. During a subsequent visit, patients were kept awake for the entire evening and remained under constant supervision.

For the patients who had been awake for 25 hours they were allowed a recovery sleep the next morning. During each sleep period the subjects were videotaped and their behavior evaluated. Some of these behavior patterns consisted of playing with the bed sheets and jumping over the railing of the bed.

Sleepwalking is “a disorder of arousal, a kind of mixed state of being,” Kapur said. There are three states of being in the world of sleep researchers – wakefulness, non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and REM sleep (most associated with dreams). Sleepwalking is a mixture of wakefulness and non-REM sleep, he said.

Some sort of arousal or disruption to sleep can also trigger sleepwalking, Kapur said. So people with sleep apnea (an interruption of breathing – snoring is commonly caused by apnea) sometimes sleepwalk, because apnea can create a state where someone is in between non-REM sleep and wakefulness.

Family genes are also a very large deciding factor, Kapur said. Yet, they still have not been able to fully discover the true reason why some will sleep walk and other not. “We know that sleepwalking happens more often in children than in adults, and the predisposing factor there might be the fact that kids have a lot more of slow-wave sleep, a deep non-REM sleep where sleepwalking often starts,” Kapur said.

There are treatments to help those who sleep walk which include better sleep hygiene, refrain from drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and staying on a regular sleep schedule.

May 12th, 2008 • tonks • Conditions and Diseases, Procedures and Tests, Sleep Comments Off

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