Sleepwalking: What Causes It & How To Cope

man laying in bed awake

Sleepwalking can be downright frightening. From the viewpoint of the witness to the sleepwalking, there is simply a person sleeping while walking! From the viewpoint of the sleepwalker, you are unaware of your movement (since you are supposed to be sleeping in bed), so waking up can be a startling experience, sometimes fatal. A friend once told me a story about his younger brother, a sleepwalker. They had the misfortune of living by a lake. One night, the little boy slept-walk out of the house and unknowingly headed for the lake. Of course as things would turn out, the boy did not actually awaken until he hit the water.

Imagine the last thing you remember was falling asleep before you suddenly wake up in a cold-water lake. Naturally, the boy screamed in terror, having a panic attack as his family made its way outside, seeing the boy lying on the shore, terrified. It took him a short time to come to his senses and calm down, realizing what happened. But do not underestimate the danger for the sleepwalker. The sudden wake-up can cause a heart attack. Terrifyingly, there have also been cases where sleepwalkers have been killed after walking into a busy road or have injured a family member.

According to Healthline, “Sleepwalking most commonly occurs in children ages 4 to 8. It is most likely to take place during deep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and early in the night—about one to two hours after going to sleep.” Symptoms of sleepwalking include: sitting up in bed while opening and closing your eyes, having a glazed-over or glassy expression in your eyes, walking around your home performing everyday activities, such as turning the lights on or off, speaking or moving in a way that does not make sense. So what are the causes?