So many myths persist about sleepwalking, a condition which affects people of all ages. Here are few well researched facts that lend some scientifical and logical background to this phenomenon.
1. Sleepwalking is not automatic
A longstanding sleepwalking myth is that it is automatic, which means you don’t have motivation or rationale for having done it. It implies that you just do it. However, a recent study has found that a lot of people remember what they did and why, and some are even able to determine that their actions were illogical but probably made sense in that moment.
2. Most sleepwalkers usually have their eyes open
Sleepwalkers who are in the non-REM stage often have their eyes open, even though they may look glaze only half awake. Some people find it hard to tell when they are actually sleepwalking because their eyes were open, and some would even have conversations with people. Some people who are act out their dreams in REM sleep usually have their eyes closed.
3. Disruption of sleep triggers sleepwalking
A lot of people have noticed they sleepwalk often on nights they feel extremely tired. Or if they find something unsettling before bedtime and keep thinking about it. Anything that causes you to wake up more easily can cause sleepwalking, like an unfamiliar environment, an uncomfortable room, lack of sleep, illness, daily stress and consuming alcohol.
4. Sleepwalking is generally harmless
Usually sleepwalking doesn’t cause any harm, as events are short. Sleepwalking happens when deep-wave sleep is broken. In very rare cases, longer episodes can occur by putting the sleepwalker or even others at risk, such as driving a car while asleep.
5. Sleepwalkers should be guided not woken up
This is a popular advice: never wake up a sleepwalker. And there is a lot of truth to this. Because they are confused and don’t have their bearings and can potentially be very agitated or aggressive. The best thing to do is to gently guide them back to their bed. Also, ,make sure that they’re safe.
6. Sleepwalking is genetic
Almost about 80 percent of sleepwalkers have a family history of sleepwalking. An individual is five times more likely to sleepwalk if their twin or sibling is a sleepwalker.
7. Sleepwalkers are prone to other health conditions
Researchers and experts have found that sleepwalkers are prone to experience daytime sleepiness, tiredness, fatigue, insomnia, depression and anxiety more often that individuals who do not sleep walk. Another recent research found that sleepwalking can potentially trigger violent behavior which can subsequently affect overall health in future.
8. Sleepwalking can be prevented
If you have experienced sleepwalking, ensure that you get enough sleep and optimal good quality sleep at that. Adopt a sleep-healthy lifestyle and routine. Your modified lifestyle should include sleeping in a cool, dark room with no television or bright lights.
Also, avoid spicy foods or heavy meals prior to bedtime, which can lead to disruption of sleep due to heartburn. Limit or totally cut back on alcohol, because although it may help you fall asleep faster, it will make you more prone waking up later on.
Lastly, lower stress as much as possible and allow yourself to decompress and relax before bed.