Sleep walking is a "parasomnia", which means unwanted behaviors occurring around sleep. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 1-2% of children walk in their sleep at least a few nights a week. Sleep walking can occur in light stages of sleep but, more often it occurs in deep sleep. Children between ages 3-7 years have a greater incidence, but adults can also suffer from this disorder. There is an association of sleep apnea in children with sleep walking. Triggers for sleepwalking may include sleep deprivation, alcohol and certain medications. Increasing sleep time and establishing good sleep habits can lead to a better night's sleep.
Sleep walking signs may range from simply sitting up in bed and looking around, walking, or even driving in a car. The individual usually has little or no memory of the incident and may need someone to convince him or her that it occurred at all. Treatment strategies are preventive approaches to reducing the triggers and making the sufferer safe.
- Increasing the amount of sleep time and improving sleep habits
- Reducing stress and establishing relaxing techniques around bedtime
- Reviewing the prescriptions the individual takes and any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to sleep walking
- Making the environment safe and secure- door alarms may be beneficial in some cases