Sleepwalking : causes, symptoms and treatment of somnambulism in children and adolescents


  • What is sleepwalking
  • How does somnambulism
  • Why there is the phenomenon of somnambulism
  • Risk Factors
  • diseases that often accompany sleepwalking
  • differential diagnosis
  • Treatment of sleepwalking
  • episodes
  • baby healthy sleep Principles

dream - familiar to us, but unique in its essence state.At this time, consciousness is turned off, the control of posture and sense organs is reduced, there is a processing of the received information the day.Outwardly, everything looks simple, but in fact occur during sleep are very complex processes.

During a night of rest alternating slow and fast phases, the duration slow dominated in the first half of the night, and fast - in the second.During the slow phase of the person looks relaxed, calm, it is difficult to wake.Fast phase is characterized by chaotic movements of the eyeballs, twitching of the arms and legs, changes in muscle tone.In both of these periods can develop disorders called parasomnias.The most striking and mysterious

parasomnia - a sleepwalking (somnambulism).

What is sleepwalking

has long been aware of the people - "Sleepwalker" that night to perform certain actions, without waking up and not responding to attempts to awaken.The nature of this phenomenon is not certain.It is believed that inhibition somnambulists violated processes in the brain, which leads to sleepwalking when changing from slow to fast sleep phase.A unique phenomenon does the fact that people do things that are very similar to the targeted: open and close the doors, shift items, dress up.But this assessment of reality is broken.For example, the door to the cabinet can be perceived by them as a way out to the street.In this regard, sleepwalking with dreams probably do not have, that is, during an episode of sleep a person does not see.This is proven by a survey somnambulist EEG devices.

prevalence of this phenomenon is quite high: 15-20% of all children at least once in their lives experienced sleepwalking.It is not always clear, because not all wander around the room and make proactive, many simply go up in bed, moving his hands, and then quietly continue to sleep.

How does somnambulism

Most often the symptoms occur in the first half of the night.Suffering sleepwalking person can perform some action, propped up in bed.But sometimes he gets up, goes around the apartment, the door opens and closes.Eyes it is often left open, but the look becomes a "glass", unseeing.

In films periodically show "lunatics", stretched out his hands and walking on the roof.This pattern is not typical for a real sleepwalking usually ends up traversal of the room or apartment, then the person comes back to bed or quietly lets bring it to bed.

somnambulist During the episode does not answer questions or says something unintelligible and out of place, the answers on the subject can be heard often.After the attack on the memory of these events is completely absent.What is an important sign of lunacy.

Sometimes "lunatic" can be awakened sleepwalking at the time, but the reaction can be violent, it is often the fright and excitement, loss of orientation in space and time, confusion.The attack rarely lasts more than 5-10 minutes, it is not dangerous for life and health, except in cases with a balcony on the street in the winter and so on.

Why there is the phenomenon of somnambulism

Among the main causes of sleepwalking in children treated version of the immaturity of the nervous system.The developing brain is not able to properly balance the processes of excitation and inhibition, which leads to such attacks.This theory is supported by the frequent combination of parasomnias with enuresis, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder.

Causes of sleepwalking in adults is worse studied.It is believed that genetic feature of the nervous system in combination with stress and violation of work and rest parasomnias may provoke seizures.In most cases, by the time adulthood they disappear completely or are very rare.

Risk Factors

Hereditary predisposition

If any of the next of kin suffered sleepwalking, then the chances of getting the same disorder increases.If both parents have such a feature, then 60% of their children will inherit walking at night.Especially great risk in identical twins.

impact of the environment and the mode of the day

prolonged absence of relaxation and psychological stress adversely affects all processes, including the regulation of brain phases of rest and wakefulness.The constant change of place and time of sleep, forced insomnia or noisy environments increase the risk parasomnias episodes.

Receiving medication

narcotic analgesics, hypnotics, antipsychotics, tranquilizers, and antihistamines can cause a sleepwalker in predisposed people.

Age and Gender

In connection with the features of sleep in adolescents and children of somnambulism frequency higher than that of adults.Several risk rises in women during menstruation and pregnancy.

diseases that often accompany sleepwalking

  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • reflux from the stomach into the esophagus (heartburn at night)
  • Asthma
  • Night cramps
  • obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (periodic cessation of breathing during sleep)
  • various mental disorders and disorders (from mild to severe illness neuroses)

All these illnesses alter the quality and structure of the rest of the night, break the smooth transition from one phase to another, which can lead to parasomnicheskim phenomena.

differential diagnosis

So all violations of awakening had in common, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them from each other.

Night terrors

Such disturbed sleep as night terrors, also takes place in the first half of the night, usually in the first 30 minutes, half an hour after falling asleep.There is a condition more common in children under 6 years.They abruptly sit up in bed, crying in a state of excitement and fear, actively move their arms and legs, looking frightened, with dilated pupils, heart rate increases, and sweating increased.He does not respond to attempts to awaken the child, the attack usually lasts from a few seconds to 5 minutes, then the baby falls asleep.In the morning no recollection of the episode is no more.Such situations may be repeated every night, then taper off gradually.


Everyone at least once in their lives saw a nightmare in a dream.Its content may be different: the pursuit of monsters, the trouble with relatives, the inability to move, drop and so on.It combines the nightmares of one thing: the end of the dream man abruptly wakes up, he is nervous and scared, the first few seconds can be a little disoriented.In these moments, people often move their legs and arms, uttered some phrases that can be like sleepwalking.But after the nightmare of clear consciousness returned very quickly and in the memory remains vivid picture of the dream.

Signs sleepwalking Night terrors Nightmares Night seizures
occurrence time in the first third of the night In the first third of the night in the last third of the night may occur at any time
Moving from bed Often Sometimes Sometimes (after the end of the episode) not characteristic
degree of excitement, sweating, increased heart rate andbreathing Moderate Strong Different Different
awakening threshold high, in the case of awakening - agitation high, in the case of awakening - agitation Low awakening after the episode High awakeningafter the episode end, consciousness confused
Memories of episode absent or extremely fuzzy absent or extremely fuzzy Bright No
incidence often Rarely Very often Rarely

Treatment of episodes of sleepwalking

All parasomnias awakening are relatively harmless.If walking at night are rare, then they can be ignored.It is enough to ensure a safe environment in the room, remove objects that could cause injury, tightly close the windows.With regular repetition of sleepwalking should review the mode of the day.Babies in this case is useful for short naps.It is important to eliminate the stressful situation in the family and in the team, which may be provoking factors in susceptible people.

Where frequent sleepwalking disrupt the normal flow of life, cause severe daytime sleepiness or pose a threat to health, doctors can appoint medical treatment of sleepwalking.In such situations sometimes help antidepressants and benzodiazepines, but they can prescribe only a specialist psychiatrist.

Sometimes the treatment of sleepwalking in children suggest the use of hypnosis.This is a dubious method, since the harm of night scenes can be far less consequences of hypnotic influence.Therefore, these therapies use impractical.

principles of healthy sleep child

  • Laying in bed at the same time in the same place.
  • difference between recovery time and sleep laying on weekdays and weekends should not exceed one hour.
  • hour before laying down it is desirable to create a calm atmosphere without noisy games and loud conversations.
  • evening you must eat something in order not to go to sleep hungry, but do not overeat.
  • tea, chocolate and other food tonic is better to leave in the morning.
  • The bedroom should be quiet, dark and cool (dim night light is allowed fear of darkness).
  • The bedroom should not be a TV or PC.

human family members with this sleep disorder should not think about how to treat sleepwalking, and on how to make the apartment as safe as possible.It is possible to keep a diary in which to celebrate events before the attack.It is better to draw the curtains tightly, firmly close the windows and doors are often advised to hang bells on them, to rouse family.If the right to organize the life and person mode, sleepwalking moments in time become rare and more likely to be stopped completely