For the month of May, Defying Shadows will be joining the Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing a post daily on a different type of Mental Illness or “Shadow” that people commonly struggle with. Join us in creating awareness and working to end the stigma that goes with these topics! Today we have Alex Newton sharing on sleepwalking. ~ Defying Shadows Team.
When I was younger, I used to sleepwalk all the time. I remember my Mum telling my stories about what I had said and done, and thinking ‘I don’t remember any of this.’ I think the funniest story she told me was that I had walked down the stairs and checked all of the doors to make sure they were locked. Because I slept walked often, she had an idea that I was that night. She had come to check on me to make sure I was okay and asked what I was doing. I asked her if all of the doors were locked and refused to go to bed until I was certain they were all locked.
So … This leaves the question are to what sleepwalking actually is. The National Sleep Foundation defines sleepwalking as “a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while asleep.” On their webpage, they also discuss how sleepwalking entails not only walking, but other behaviours as well. Some of these other behaviours include leaving the home and even driving.
Symptoms of sleepwalking include: sleeptalking, little to no memory of the event, screaming (in conjunction with sleep terrors), and difficulty waking the sleepwalker during an episode. Although you’ve heard plenty of times not to wake the sleepwalker as it may cause harm or whatever scientific ‘fact’ they use, you can wake them. In fact, if they are close to harm, it is better to walk them to prevent any accidents from occurring.
The prevalence of sleepwalking is approximately 1-15% of the general population. However, it is most common in children – especially between the ages of three and seven. A correlation between sleepwalking and bedwetting has been found – children who have experienced bedwetting have a higher chance of having an episode (or more) of sleepwalking.
Although there is no specific treatment for sleepwalking, often times children outgrow it.Hypnosis has been found, in adults, to alleviate episodes of sleepwalking. Pharmacologically, hypnotics-sedatives or antidepressants may be prescribed to help with sleepwalking. Other treatment options includes improving your sleeping pattern and routine. When seeing your doctor, be sure to think of factors that may trigger your sleepwalking such as stress, medication, or fatigue.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.