Taking a stroll in your slumber or chatting while you nap?


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My mother has developed some serious sleeping disorders. She often can't sleep for more than 4 hours at a time. During the rare occurance that she is asleep, she talks in full, clear senteces, but they often make no sense. For example, she once told me to take the hangers out of the freezer. Whatever you say, Mom. As if my mother wasn't enough, my stepbrother sleepwalks constantly. He gets out of his bed and walks around the house, but never leaves the home or tries to do anything too peculiar. He sometimes comes into our bedrooms, will sit in the living room, and will occasionally talk to us. While my family is struggling with sleeping disorders, I can sleep like a rock for what seems like eternity until someone wakes me up. This inspired me to ask, why do people have these types of sleeping disorders? What causes them, and how can they be cured?

 

 

I've found that there are a few factors that can cause sleepwalking, like genetics, environment and medical conditions. Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is believed to be inherited, as it is ten times more likely for someone to have a problem with sleepwalking if a first-degree relative does as well.  The environmental factors associated with the problem are sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, alcohol intoxication, stress, and drugs. Ironically, sleeping medication is what can cause you to sleepwalk, which is common with drugs like Ambien that have a reputation for causing odd sleep behavior. The medical conditions associated with sleepwalking are arrythmias, fever, asthma, acid reflux, seizures, sleep apnea, and psychiatric disorders. Cures for sleepwalking include redeucing stress, prescriptions like ProSom, Klonopin, and Trazodone and relaxation techniques, often performed with a hypnotist or behavioral therapist.

While sleep walking may seem humorous at times, like in the movie "Stepbrothers," it can be very dangerous and scary. People going through an episode are in deep stages of sleep, have open, glassy eyes and can often hurt themselves or others. During one of my stepbrothers sleepwalking episodes, he fell down a flight of stairs. It's often a misconception that people can't get hurt while sleepwalking or that you shouldn't wake them up, and neither of these things are true.

There are a small percentage of people that have nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder, or NS-RED. These people sleepwalk to the kitchen and eat without recollecting it. The dangers of this can include weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and eating anything, including non-food items which can cause serious illness. People with this disorder are often those who diet during the day, and it is is also associated with those that have other sleep disorders or drug and alcohol issues. If you have this issue, a well balanced diet and medication is often the cure.

Sleep talking is common, and like other sleep disorders, is caused by depression, stress, fever, alcohol, and sleep deprivation. Unlike other disorders, sleep talking can occur at any time during the sleep cycle. Depending on how light or deep the sleep, the talking may be more clear and direct or sound more like gibberish and mumbling. There are no treatments for sleep talking, as it is deemed unnecessary.

While I was pleased to find there were lots of information on the topic, I expected there to be a more complex cause for these disorders. I did however find that there are several more strange sleeping disorders that include syptoms like acting out dreams, violence, and sexual behaviors.

Have you witness or experienced any strange sleep behaviors?

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Blakey, R. (2002, July 2). Sleep eating: A behavioral food fight . In CNN Health . Retrieved December 5, 2012

Chanin, L. R. (2011, October 15). Sleep disorders: Sleepwalking basics. In WebMD. Retrieved December 3, 2012

Preteens and sleepwalking. (n.d.). In Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Retrieved December 3, 2012

Sleep disorders and treatment for sleepwalking . (2012, July 30). In WebMD. Retrieved December 3, 2012

Sleep eating. (2007, September). In American Sleep Association . Retrieved December 5, 2012

Sleep-related eating disorders . (2012, July 28). In WebMD. Retrieved December 5, 2012

Sleep talking. (n.d.). In National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved December 5, 2012

 

 

 

1 Comment

When I was younger, I had a terrible case of sleepwalking and sleep talking. Now that I am older, I no longer sleep walk but my sleep talking is still pretty bad. I fear that I may scare my future husband someday. I did some research to see if there are any cures but saw that there aren't, besides seeing a sleep specialist and maybe watching the food and drinks I consume. After doing research on this, do you think that sleep talking or walking gets worst with age, or does it just become more manageable?

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