Sleepwalking is a common sleep disorder. It usually affects children, although adults are not immune to it. We spoke to Subin Jain, M.D., a specialist in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, internal medicine and critical care medicine and a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.
If you think you might suffer from sleepwalking, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Tracie Handley
According to Dr. Jain, "Sleepwalking is a parasomnia, a sleep disorder that occurs more often in children than in adults." An obvious clue for sleepwalkers that points at the affliction is waking up in a different location. "Otherwise," he says, "they could have wet feet in their bed, the door is open or the refrigerator is open. Also, typically, they can be found by a family member or other individual in the household, so they know they have it."
Get A Professional Assessment"It is important to get a professional assessment to rule out any underlying problems," says Dr. Jain. "Fortunately, if those are ruled out, then in adults and younger individuals it may be a completely benign disorder."
Ensure The Sleep Environment Is Safe"Make sure the doors and windows in the bedroom are shut, preferably that the windows have a lock, especially if they are on an upper floor," Dr. Jain says. He also advises patients and their families to make sure "that doors to the outside are locked and the key kept elsewhere so the patient won't get out of the house and, perhaps, drive off and hurt themselves or someone else."
Do Not Awaken The SleepwalkerDr. Jain advises to not wake a sleepwalker, for the arousal might make the person confused and disoriented. "It is better," he says, "if you just try and lead them back to their bed, or, if necessary, gently arouse them so as not to cause excessive fear or confusion when they arouse out of sleep."
Use Medication If Necessary"If it is occurring excessively," says Dr. Jain, "taking a special benzodiazepine called clonazepam can be helpful. But that is if the sleepwalking is excessive, and your doctor will determine that."
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene"Stressors, such as sleep deprivation and psychological stresses, can make sleep disorders like sleepwalking worse," says Dr. Jain. "Make your bedroom, or your child's bedroom, calm and peaceful, maybe take a nice bath before bed. Whatever helps to reduce stress."
Subin Jain, M.D., is a specialist in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, internal medicine and critical care medicine> He is a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, and Louisville Pulmonary Care. A graduate of Maulana Azad Medical College at the University of Delhi, Dr. Jain completed residency and fellowships at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the University of Connecticut and Baylor College of Medicine. He is also board certified in internal, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicines.
Have you ever experienced sleepwalking?