Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disorder belonging to the parasomnia family. Sleepwalking is a disorder that occurs when people walk or do another activity while they are still asleep. These activities can be as benign as sitting up in bed, walking to the bathroom, and cleaning, or as hazardous as cooking, driving, having sex, violent gestures, grabbing at hallucinated objects, or even homicide. The prevalence of sleepwalking in the general population is estimated to be between 1% and 15%.
Sleepwalking, formally known as somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while asleep. It is belongs to the Parasomnias family. Parasomnias are a category of sleep disorders that involve abnormal and unnatural movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, and dreams that occur while falling asleep, sleeping, between sleep stages, or during arousal from sleep ( (Bassetti et al., 2000)). Sleep was once referred to as “the gentle tyrant” (Webb, 1992). People can try to stay awake, and sometimes they may go for a while without sleep, but eventually they must sleep. One reason for this fact is that sleep is one of the human body’s biological rhythms, natural cycles of activity that the body must go through. Sleepwalkers often have little or no memory of the incident, as they are not truly conscious. The person's eyes are commonly open but have a dim and glassy "look right through you" character. Sleepwalking has been described in medical literature dating before Hippocrates (460 BC-370 BC). Sleepwalking was initially thought to be a dreamer acting out a dream, as represented in a study conducted by the Society for Science & the Public in 1954, stating: “Sleepwalking as a repression of hostile feelings against the father caused the patients to react by acting out in a dream world with sleepwalking, the distorted fantasies they had about all authoritarian figures, such as fathers, officers and stern superiors.” (Society for Science and the Public, 1954) Sigmund Freud believed that sleepwalking was connected to fulfilling sexual wishes; Freud suggested that the essence of this phenomenon was the desire to go to sleep in the same area as the individual had slept in childhood. (Gale Power Search, 2005) This activity mostly occurs during middle childhood and young adolescence. Sleepwalking is most common in children but decreases with age, sleepwalking is very common in kids and most sleepwalkers only do so occasionally and outgrow it by the teen years. Approximately 15% of children between 4-12 years of age will experience sleepwalking. Generally sleepwalking behaviors are resolved by late adolescence; however, approximately 10% of all sleepwalkers begin their behavior as teens. Research has also made it explanatory that sleepwalking can partially be hereditary; it could be also be a symptom for drug use or psychological disorders for people with psychological conditions. A higher incidence [of sleepwalking events] has been reported in patients with schizophrenia, hysteria and anxiety neuroses (Orme, 1967) Also, patients with migraine headaches or Tourette Syndrome are 4–6 times more likely to sleepwalk. Some medications that may increase sleepwalking include: chlorpromazine (Thorazine), perphenazine (Trilafon), lithium, benzodiazepine(Triazolam), amitriptyline (Elavel, Endep), zolpidem (Ambien) and beta blockers. (Swanson , 1999),
There are actually two kinds of sleep:
* REM (rapid eye movement)
REM sleep is a relatively active type of sleep when most of a person’s dreaming takes place, vividly recalled dreams mostly occur during REM sleep. In REM sleep, the voluntary muscles are inhibited, meaning that the person in REM sleep moves very little. They are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. Many people tend to wake, or experience a period of very light sleep, for...
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