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Sleepwalking (cont.)

Sleepwalking Causes

Genetic factors

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.

Environmental factors

Sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, fever, stress, magnesium deficiency, and alcohol intoxication can trigger 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.

Physiologic factors

  • The length and depth of slow wave sleep, which is greater in young children, may be a factor in the increased frequency of sleepwalking in children.

  • Conditions, such as pregnancy and menstruation, are known to increase the frequency of sleepwalking.

Associated medical conditions

  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)

  • Fever

  • Gastroesophageal reflux (food or liquid regurgitating from the stomach into the food tube or esophagus)

  • Nighttime asthma

  • Nighttime seizures (convulsions)

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (a condition in which breathing stops temporarily while sleeping)

  • Psychiatric disorders, for example, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic attack, or dissociative states (for example, multiple personality disorder)

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Sleepwalking - Treatment

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Somnambulism (Sleep Walking) »

Somnambulism (ie, sleepwalking) is a disorder of arousal that falls under the parasomnia group.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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