Facts on Sleepwalking
Sleepwalking has been described in medical literature dating before Hippocrates (460 BC-370 BC). In Shakespeare's tragic play, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth's famous sleepwalking scene ("out, damned spot") is ascribed to her guilt and resulting insanity as a consequence of her involvement in the murder of her father-in-law.
There are four stages of sleep. Stages 1, 2, and 3 are characterized as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the sleep cycle associated with dreaming as well as surges of important hormones essential for proper growth and metabolism. Each sleep cycle (stages 1,2,3, and REM) lasts about 90-100 minutes and repeats throughout the night. Thus the average person experiences 4-5 complete sleep cycles per night.
What Causes Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking occurs more frequently in identical twins, and is 10 times more likely to occur if a first-degree relative has a history of sleepwalking.
Drugs, for example, sedative/hypnotics (drugs that promote sleep), neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychosis), minor tranquilizers (drugs that produce a calming effect), stimulants (drugs that increase activity), and antihistamines (drugs used to treat symptoms of allergy) can cause sleepwalking.
Associated medical conditions
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/29/2016
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