True Story About a Sleepwalker:

I remember a sleepwalker who was a good friend or ours. He was a pilot. Consequently, he flew all over the world. He slept in strange places and hotels. So, one night he woke up in the foyer of the hotel, it was in Kenia. He did not know where his room was. And, he had his pyjamas on. A rather embarrassing situation, he had to walk up to the reception and ask them to guide him back to his room. It was somewhat difficult to convince the reception desk about his dilemma! I remember that this was one of my favourite childhood stories!

And so it Happened to me…

One evening, I sleep-walked into the lounge. I told my mom that I was sleeping in the bath! They had a good laugh and tried to converse with me, they realised that I was fast asleep. So, my mom told me to go back to bed. The next morning I could not remember a thing!

Have you Ever Walked in Your Sleep? Did you Know That You Could Prevent Sleepwalking?

Sometimes, sleepwalking is a once off thing. An isolated incident, that although strange, is a funny story to tell at the breakfast table the next morning. However, if the once off incident starts becoming a regular occurrence you may want to consider visiting your doctor.

“Once is a funny story.
Twice is a coincidence.
Thrice is a pattern.”

There is usually no reason to be alarmed, but it is important to rule out any possible underlying conditions. Sleepwalking alone isn’t harmful, as long as you have no underlying medical condition. However, a sleepwalker can potentially hurt themselves or others when unaware of their surroundings.

Sleepwalkers can harm themselves.

This means that it is important to prevent sleepwalking if possible. Your doctor can recommend some possible solutions to the problem.
In the meantime, here are a few first-line defences that you can make use of to prevent sleepwalking.

Three Steps to Prevent Sleepwalking

Step 1

Lookout for Patterns

Being aware of what triggers a sleepwalking episode can help you prevent sleepwalking. Keep your eyes peeled for any patterns. Don’t expect to notice them immediately. However, you might start seeing certain things crop up before a sleepwalking episode. Whenever you sleepwalk, ask a family member to keep track of the date, duration of the episode and what you did while sleepwalking.

Keep a Sleep Walkers Diary.

Prevent sleepwalking

Keep a sleep walkers diary to figure out why you sleepwalk

Using that information, keep a diary of your episodes. Over time, you might discover a pattern that points out the things that are causing the problem. Perhaps you sleepwalk after drinking more alcohol than you usually would or after a particularly large meal. Or, maybe you sleepwalk when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Whatever they may be, once you have a clearer idea of your triggers, it will be easier to avoid them and prevent sleepwalking.

Step 2

Get Quality Sleep

Fatigue and sleep deprivation are common causes of sleepwalking in those predisposed to the disorder. This means that getting more, higher quality sleep is your first defence in order to prevent sleepwalking. If you regularly get less than seven or eight hours of shuteye, start by increasing the time you set aside to sleep.

You will also want to start practising good sleep hygiene habits. See further down for more on sleep hygiene.

If that does not work, look for other things that can be bringing down the quality of your sleep. In many cases, the main culprit for this is either your mattress or your pillow.

The Main Culprits of Poor Sleep – A Mattress or Pillow:

An old mattress might not provide the support you need any more. This can result in a drop in the quality of your sleep. Consider replacing it with the Sealy Ava Pillow Top Mattress. A popular choice for customers of Mattress Warehouse, it is able to satisfy a variety of sleep needs and positions.

If you find yourself waking up with a crick in your neck, it is past time to replace your pillow. Being in pain through the night is clearly not an optimal condition for sleep. Additionally, old pillows can also spark allergy issues due to dust mites and bacteria. A great replacement to keep in mind is the Sealy My Memory Pillow.

Step 3

Eliminate Stress

Prevent sleepwalking by eliminating stress from your life!
Prevent sleepwalking by eliminating stress from your life!

Start taking the appropriate steps to cope with your stress and you can prevent sleepwalking. Two of the most common causes of insomnia, stress and anxiety are by extension also frequently trigger sleepwalking. Research from the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown a correlation between psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety or depression, and sleepwalking at night.

Start employing techniques such as journaling, yoga or meditation. These will help you address the issues that are worrying about during the day. Once they are resolved, they won’t disturb your sleep anymore.

Sleep Hygiene

Habits and practices that will improve your sleep:

Practising healthy sleep hygiene habits can also help prevent sleepwalking. Incorporating other techniques can further increase the quality of your sleep and decrease the likelihood of having a sleepwalking episode. Here are a couple of ways to prevent sleepwalking through practising good sleep hygiene.

Minimise Sensory Input

Create a bedroom that is cool, dark and quiet at night. Use dark shades or heavy curtains to block out the light. If you find that noisy surroundings are an issue, wear earplugs or use a white noise machine. On the other hand, if you notice yourself pushing and pulling at your covers, set your thermostat to 18 °C. Minimising things that can make you toss in your sleep can prevent sleepwalking.

Have a Routine

Routine is critical when it comes to quality sleep. Pick a time to go to sleep and to wake up. Stick to this time, keeping it the same every day. Building a bedtime routine with recognisable patterns will signal your brain that the time to shut down and rest is near. As the evening progresses, start dimming the lights, pick up a book and stretch or meditate for a few minutes. A routine that gets your brain into a relaxed state can help prevent sleepwalking.

Avoid Blue Light

Staying away from screens before bed will raise the quality of sleep of just about anyone. Your smartphone, tablet and computer all emit blue light that keeps your brain alert. You cannot be on full alert and then expect to fall asleep as soon as you get into bed. Without a proper transition period in between being alert and being relaxed, your mind will still be racing when you get into bed. Start providing a buffer of time in which it can gently slow down and prepare to rest. You can do this by turning off all your devices about an hour before bed.

prevent sleepwalking  by avoiding blue light before bedtime.
Avoid blue light before bed!

Limit Stimulants

Limiting your consumption of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine later in the day can help prevent sleepwalking. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt your sleep later on. Furthermore, caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants and will keep your brain alert. A calm, peaceful mind is what you want if your goal is to prevent sleepwalking. So, try to avoid coffee in the afternoon. Additionally, if you have not quit smoking, limit the number of cigarettes you smoke in the evenings.

Exercise More Often

If you want to prevent sleepwalking, start exercising frequently. Studies show that people who exercise sleep better than those who do not. They also note having more energy during the day.

The Causes of Sleepwalking

Prevent sleepwalking
Sleepwalking somewhere?

You may be unaware at the time, but the actions of a sleepwalker can sometimes lead to dangerous consequences. As a matter of fact, the Annals of Neurology published a study suggesting that the main culprit for sleep-related self-injury is sleepwalking.

This makes sense as sleepwalkers have been known to clamber out windows and sometimes even drive around. The reasons that people sleepwalk are not crystal-clear as of yet. Nevertheless, there are still a few factors which are known to influence whether or not the disorder manifests:

  • Genetics
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Pre-existing medical conditions

Similarly to other disorders, sleepwalking can be passed down in families. A study led by Dr Christina A. Gurnett published in the journal Neurology discovered a genetic link in the disorder.

Furthermore, they were able to trace the disorder back to a section of DNA on chromosome 20. So, those with relatives that sleepwalk may want to take steps to prevent sleepwalking. Even if they do not sleepwalk themselves it can help them avoid developing the disorder.

Additionally, people going through a period of sleep deprivation have been known to start sleepwalking. An inconsistent sleep schedule can also put you at risk for developing the disorder. Lead investigator of a study published in the Annals of Neurology, Antonio Zadra, stated that the team found sleep deprivation to be a trigger in those already predisposed to the condition.

Furthermore, various medical conditions can make you more susceptible to developing a sleepwalking disorder. For instance, sleep apnea, asthma, reflux and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sleepwalking In Children

The reasons can also vary based on whether the sleepwalker is a child or an adult.

prevent sleepwalking
Sleepwalking in children can be caused by a change in their routine

Sleepwalking in children is usually brought about due to a change in routine.

For example:

  • Falling asleep with a full bladder
  • Lack of sleep
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • A change in sleeping environment
  • Excessive noise through the night
  • Illness
  • Stress or anxiety-inducing situations
  • Some medications

Sleepwalking In Adults

These issues can also initiate sleepwalking in adults in the same way. Nevertheless, many times an underlying condition is the catalyst for sleepwalking in adults.

For instance:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Head injuries
  • Migraines
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Stroke

So, while movies reserve sleepwalking for crazy people, that hardly applies to real life. If you are sleepwalking, it is probably something as simple as an irregular sleep schedule or stress.

While sleepwalking in itself usually isn’t harmful, it can lead to people accidentally hurting themselves or others. It may be caused by an underlying health condition, or it may not. Either way, it is highly treatable and you will be able to prevent sleepwalking. Something as simple as a few clever changes to your sleep routine or a new bed can help you manage this disorder. Armed with the right tools, you can get the rest you crave and deserve.