Sleep Walking and Sleep Terrors
Sleepwalking or Somnambulism refers to recurrent episodes
of abnormal, complex behavior that occurs during Slow Wave
Sleep that is during the first third of the night during
stages 3 and 4 of Non REM sleep.
The subject typically leaves the bed and is active in a
confused and disoriented state, often moving slowly and
clumsily, possibly with injury to themselves. The sleep
walking may be preceded by a scream or occurrence of a Sleep
Terror, with marked autonomic hyperactivity such as increased
heart rate and respiratory rate. When occurring in a state
of terror, the movements may be much more rapid, with episodes
of rushing into walls, through windows and out into street.
There is reduced responsiveness, but the subject may shout
or scream. The flight response may include complex behavior
such as starting a car and driving. The complex behaviour
may be one of escape or of defense against a perceived threat.
In some instances trying to stop the subject often leads
to violent movements. Although there is amnesia of the event,
the subject may have memory of the imminent danger or specific
threats against themselves, family or property.
There is often a history of sleepwalking or night terrors
in childhood and it is not uncommon for family members to
Sleepwalking is diagnosed through a combination of history
and sleep studies including Actigraphy and PSG.
There are safe and effective treatments available including
tablets and psychotherapies such as hypnosis.
For more information please contact