Symptoms and Signs of Sleepwalking

Doctor's Notes on Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is a disorder characterized by walking while asleep. There are four stages of sleep that make up one sleep cycle. 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 lasts about 90-100 minutes and repeats throughout the night. Sleepwalking typically occurs in stage 3 of the first or second sleep cycle. When a person is sleepwalking, their eyes are usually open but they may have a glassy-eyed, dazed look. Once awake, the sleepwalker has no memory of the behaviors.

Symptoms of sleepwalking include episodes that range from quiet walking about the room to agitated running or attempts to "escape, " the eyes are usually open with a glassy, staring appearance; if questioned, responses are slow with simple thoughts, contain non-sense phraseology, or are absent; no memory of the sleepwalking event upon awakening. In children, bedwetting may accompany sleepwalking behaviors.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.