Affecting approximately 4 percent of the adult population in the U.S., sleepwalking can be a serious condition. Adult sleepwalking may lead to a reduced quality of life and episodes of violent behaviors during sleep. People who experience episodes of sleepwalking on a regular basis may experience a number of related conditions during their waking hours, and they might also injure themselves or others while they are asleep.
What is adult sleepwalking?
Walking during sleep is a relatively common sleep disorder or parasomnia that affects an estimated 4 percent of adults. During the episodes, people who have the condition are partially aroused while they are asleep during non-REM sleep phases. The brain is partially awake, and people can engage in complex behaviors such as walking, talking, jumping, hitting, and other behaviors. Since the episodes may occur during non-REM sleep, the sleepwalkers may have no memory of the incidents. Sleepwalking also occurs in children at higher rates than in adults.
Sleepwalking study demonstrates lower quality of life issues
A 2013 study that was conducted by researchers at the Gui-de-Chauliac Hospital in Montpelier, France found that adult sleepwalking is associated with numerous detrimental impacts on the life qualities of people who suffer from the disorder. The researchers found that regular sleepwalkers had an increased risk for the following issues during their waking hours:
- Daytime tiredness
- Reduced quality of life
The researchers studied a group of 100 adults who were diagnosed with adult sleepwalking between 2007 and 2011. The study participants’ results were compared to a control group of adults who did not suffer from sleepwalking or other parasomnias.
Sleepwalking and violent behaviors
Sleepwalking is also associated with violent behaviors. Because the brain is only partially awake during sleepwalking episodes, people may lash out at others or injure themselves because of confusion and impaired perception. In the study, 58 percent of the participants reported a history of violent episodes while they were sleepwalking. Among the people who had experienced violence during sleep, 17 percent caused injuries to themselves or to others that required medical treatment. Injuries that were reported included fractures, bruises, and nosebleeds. The researchers reported that one study participant had jumped out of a third-story window while the participant was sleepwalking, causing severe head trauma and multiple fractures.
Frequency of sleepwalking episodes and triggering events
Some of the study participants experienced sleepwalking episodes every night while others reported experiencing them on a weekly basis. Among the cohort, 22.8 percent reported that they walked in their sleep every night while another 43.5 percent reported that the walked in their sleep on a weekly basis.
There were a number of triggering factors that increased the frequency of episodes, including the following:
- Stressful events
- Sleep deprivation
- Strong positive emotions
- Drug or alcohol intake
- Getting help for adult sleepwalking
Sleepwalking can be serious, making it important for people who suffer from the condition to get help. If you suffer from it, getting help from your doctor can help to protect your safety and that of others while also improving the quality of your life. To learn more, schedule a consultation in Gainesville, Florida with Accent Sleep Solutions by filling out our contact form or calling 352.271.5375.