Sleepwalking, also called somnambulism, is when a person gets up and walks around while being in a state of sleep. While occasional sleepwalking often doesn’t indicate something serious and requires any treatment, frequent incidents of sleepwalking might be a sign of an underlying sleep condition.
This issue is more common than many people think. According to National Sleep Foundation, between 1 to 15 percent of the general population suffers from sleepwalking. Most people don’t remember what they do during sleepwalking.
Scientists still don’t know the exact cause of sleepwalking, but they suggest that in most people it’s caused by genetics. However, genes are not the only reason. There are many things people do daily that put them at high risk of somnambulism. Keep reading to find out other factors of this sleep disorder.
1. Magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is essential for healthy sleep. This crucial mineral supports physical relaxation and deep sleep. Magnesium deficiency can do a number to your health and even trigger frequent incidents of sleepwalking.
Traveling can affect your circadian rhythms and thus raises the risk of sleepwalking. Travelers have an irregular sleep schedule, are often affected by unusual noises, and are more likely to experience sleep deprivation. All of these things can contribute to somnambulism.
3. Going to bed with a full bladder
This habit can make you walk around while you sleep. The urge to urinate while in a state of deep sleep might contribute to the mixed state of consciousness - active but not awake - that characterizes sleepwalking.
4. Sleep apnea
Scientists have found that 1 in 10 people with obstructive sleep apnea might experience sleepwalking or other parasomnias, including acting out in response to their dreams. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person experiences repeated interruptions to normal breathing, which can contribute to micro-arousals from sleep. Loud snoring accompanied by gasping or choking is the most common sign of sleep apnea.
5. Psychological conditions
Emotional stress and trauma can negatively affect healthy sleep patterns and the circadian rhythms that support them, which increases your risk of sleepwalking. Panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder are two psychological conditions linked to the more frequent occurrence of sleepwalking.
Anxiety and depression are connected with this type of sleep disorder as well. Good night’s sleep can play an essential role in aiding the treatment of psychological conditions.
6. Consuming alcohol at night
Nearly 20 percent of American adults use alcohol to improve sleep. Although consuming alcohol at night might make you fall asleep faster, the truth is alcohol is a potent sleep disrupter. Alcohol negatively impacts your circadian rhythms thus raising your risk of somnambulism.
7. Taking certain medications
Taking sedatives can make you more prone to somnambulism. Other meds like stimulants, antihistamines, and medications with antipsychotic and tranquilizing effects all can raise the risk of walking in your sleep.
If you have any changes in your sleep patterns, you need to talk with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re taking over-the-counter prescription meds.
8. Acid reflux
This might sound surprising but acid reflux can lead to sleepwalking. In fact, gastroesophageal reflux disorder is one of the most common reasons for poor sleep in adults. Moreover, acid reflux is not only linked to sleepwalking, but it also increases a person’s risk of developing sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome. This is due to the fact that symptoms of GERD usually worsen at night when you’re lying down. If you suffer from nighttime symptoms of acid reflux, consider talking with your doc and ask to be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.