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Sleepwalking or somnambulism is a sleep disorder characterized by walking or performing other activities while asleep. It represent a series of complex behaviors that are initiated during the slow wave sleep.

Sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, insomnia and many others are very common and sometimes can be triggered by various causes such as stress, physical illnesses that cause pain or frequent urination, working in shifts and many others. Depression is also considered an important factor for developing these disorders. Disturbed sleep can cause a great deal of distress for people, whether it is caused by depression or not. Sleepwalking is a serious disorder for some and a mild annoyance for others.

Depression and sleep disorders

People with depression often suffer from sleeping disorders. Generally, these involve getting less sleep than usual and include:

  • Difficulty getting off to sleep - often because of lying in bed with thoughts going round in your head.
  • Frequently waking up during the night.
  • Waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.
  • Somnambulism (in rare cases)

If the sleeping disorder is associated with depression, the problems won’t go away simply by getting enough sleep. Even when they get enough hours of sleep, the people suffering from depression often wake up in the morning feeling tired and do not feel refreshed.

Symptoms of sleepwalking

There are several symptoms which are related to somnambulism and some of the most common are:

  • ambulation (walking or moving about) that occurs during sleep. The onset typically occurs in pre-pubertal children.
  • difficulty waking up during an episode of sleepwalking
  • sleeping with eyes open
  • blank facial expression
  • sitting up and appearing awake during sleep
  • amnesia following an episode of sleepwalking
  • confusion, disorientation on awakening
  • episodes typically occur in the first third of the sleeping process
  • fatigue
  • stress
  • anxiety

Statistic data

It is proven that somewhere between 1% and 17% of U.
S. children sleepwalk. Some 18% of Americans are prone to the act. Research has shown that the highest prevalence of sleepwalking was 16.7% in children of 11 to 12 years of age. Boys are more likely to sleepwalk than girls.

Cause of sleepwalking - stress

Sleep problems are frequently asociated with periods of the intense stress. This is why many sleep problems resolve once the stress is gone or the other medical condition behind it subsides. However, some sleep disorders can begin as an acute problem and develop into a chronic sleep problem. 

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