What Is Somnambulism?

Somnambulism is walking or getting up and moving in a dream. Somnambulism (Sleepwalking) is a general term which includes activities such as walking and eating during sleep. Somnambulist is not conscious of his/her doing. If a person has all the characteristics listed above than he/she is diagnosed as somnambulant.
Somnambulists are mostly children. There is much evidence to suggest that certain types of people are more prone to sleepwalking, which proves that somnambulism is hereditary.  The start of  somnambulism is at the age between 4 and 10 year, but some people start sleepwalking at teenage years and continue into adulthood. About 2% of adults continue to sleepwalk.
The normal sleep cycle has different stages, from slight drowsiness to deep sleep. During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep the most common are picturesque dreams.
Every night people go through several cycles of REM sleep. Somnambulism usually occurs during deep sleep that is not REM sleep (third and fourth stage of sleep), early in the night. If it occurs during REM sleep, it often happens in the morning.

No one knows exactly what causes sleepwalking. Possible somnambulism causes are:

  • Stress
  • Agitation
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol
  • Sleeping pills

Somnambulists should not be woken. The safest is to return them to bed. They are in a deep sleep, and waking up can cause complete disorientation. In children it can cause anxiety. Sleepwalkers are still asleep and unaware that they got up from the bed. Probably in the morning will not even know that they were sleepwalking.

During the process of somnambulism, the person can begin to talk. Talk is not very coherent. A person may mumble or say random words or phrases, and is not likely to divulge their secrets. So, if your husband mentions another woman in a dream, it does not mean they are cheating!
It is difficult to determine one particular thing that is dangerous a somnambulant person, but you must be aware that the stairs, sharp objects, opening of the doors and walking on the road can be dangerous to the life of a sleepwalker.

For children and adults, somnambulism is usually caused by a lack of sleepdepression symptoms or some stress situation. In most cases, treatment is not necessary because a somnambulant person rarely shows any serious medical or psychiatric condition.