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Sleep Walking

Updated: Sep 11, 2023


Sleepwalking occurs when a person gets up and walks around while at rest. Sleepwalking disorder occurs more frequently in children than in adults, and it usually disappears in teenagers. Occasionally, it doesn’t indicate a severe problem or require treatment. An underlying sleep disorder may be indicated by recurrent sleep walking.

It is more likely that it is confused with another sleep disorder or medical condition in adults.

In the event someone in your household sleepwalks, it’s important to protect them from potential injuries.


It usually occurs one to two hours after falling asleep that sleepwalking occurs. If you take a nap, it’s unlikely to happen. An episode can occur rarely or often, lasting for a few minutes or several hours.

Someone suffering from this may:

  • Walk around after getting out of bed

  • Not responding or communicating with others

  • Being disoriented or confused

  • Forget the episode in the morning

  • Sleep disturbances cause problems during the day

  • Engage in sexual activity without awareness

  • Become violent

Doctor’s consultation

Consult your sleep walking doctor if the sleepwalking episodes:

  • Occur often

  • Lead to dangerous behavior or injury

  • Cause significant sleep disruption

  • Result in daytime symptoms


Sleepwalking is also known as a parasomnia which is an undesirable behavior or experience during sleep. The act of sleepwalking is an arousal disorder that occurs during sleep.

It can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Restless sleep

  • Anxiety

  • Temperature

  • Sleep schedule disruption

  • Sleep-disordered breathing

  • Certain medications

  • Substance use

  • Restless legs syndrome

  • Acid reflux

Risk factors

It may be caused by the following factors:

  • Genetic: It appears to run in families.

  • Age: It is more likely to occur in adulthood.


A person who sleepwalks can:

  • Hurt themselves

  • Experience prolonged sleep disruption

  • Experience social problems or embarrassment

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Injure someone nearby


Doctor reviews the medical history and symptoms to diagnose the disease.

Evaluations includes:

  • Physical exam. Your doctor may perform a physical exam.

  • Symptoms discussion. Describe any sleepwalking history

  • Nocturnal sleep study (polysomnography). Doctors may recommend an overnight sleep study in some cases.


If sleepwalking disorder leads to the potential for injury, is disruptive to family members, or results in embarrassment or sleep disruption for the person who sleepwalks, treatment may be needed.

Sleepwalking treatment may include:

  • Treating any underlying condition

  • Anticipatory awakenings

  • Sleepwalking Medication

  • Mental health therapy or counseling

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