"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Sleepwalking and insomnia: what’s the connection?

May 9, 2023 – Is there a connection between sleepwalking and the sleep problem insomnia?

Sleepwalking, also called somnambulismaffects approx. 4% of the US population often – although many other people will not be aware of it. (Sleepwalking is taken into account Parasomnia or abnormal behavior whilst you sleep.)

Sleepwalking can occur when you find yourself briefly woke up from Non-REM sleepa period of deep recovery that helps restore body tissues and repair essential bodily functions.

“The non-REM phase accounts for about 80% of sleep in adults,” said Kenneth Lee, MD, Assistant professor of neurology and sleep medicine and clinical medical director on the UChicago Medicine Sleep Center. “Generally speaking, sleepwalking occurs when you are no longer fully asleep but also not fully awake – you are in a limbo between the two states. In addition, things that increase the frequency with which your brain wakes up increase your risk for sleepwalking episodes if you happen to be prone to them, including sleep apnea and leg movements.”

When you sleepwalk, it normally happens through the first third of the night, and you're unable to think, plan, or function properly. You don't know where you're. Although you progress in a dream-like state, you can not remember any dreams you truly had while sleepwalking.

Many doctors imagine that lack of sleep is one in every of the major causes of sleepwalking. If you insomniait's difficult in your brain and body to modify between sleep stages. When you do go to sleep, the sleep will not be deep enough and your brain could also be “tricked” into considering your body needs to be energetic.

But what exactly is the connection between insomnia and sleepwalking? Can you teach your brain a restful sleep pattern? Here's the whole lot it's essential know.

What are the danger aspects for sleepwalking?

Children usually tend to sleepwalk because As you get older, you have less non-REM sleepBut sleepwalking can sometimes proceed into maturity, said Reza Radmand, DMD, Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and Fellow of the American Academy of Oral Medicine.

“Sleepwalking in adulthood is rare and is usually associated with certain medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants. Psychological trauma can also contribute to sleepwalking episodes,” said Radmand, who can be an instructor and research fellow in sleep medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School.

Sleepwalking can Is in the familyespecially if one or each of your parents have done it. Other possible risk aspects include:

  • drink alcohol
  • You suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • have fever
  • Be stressed
  • Have a seizure disorder

“Our mental state also influences the quality of sleep,” says Jordan Standlee, MD, Neurologist on the University of Michigan Health and clinical assistant professor of neurology on the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

“During periods of high situational stress, our brains send out a more active fight-or-flight signal, and this often carries over into the sleep phase, where our brains have a harder time achieving deep, relaxed, stable sleep. Many people who sleepwalk report that this occurs more frequently during periods when they are particularly stressed or anxious,” he said.

What are the symptoms of sleepwalking?

Accordingly Penn MedicineSigns of sleepwalking include:

  • Walking in your sleep
  • Your eyes are open and your facial features is expressionless
  • Talking, but what you say doesn't make sense
  • Reacting confused or aggressively when someone wakes you up
  • Appear alert to others
  • Sitting or performing activities as in the event you were awake
  • When you get up, you'll be able to't remember anything that happened.

Does insomnia result in sleepwalking?

Although insomnia alone does indirectly cause sleepwalking, Standlee says there are a minimum of 4 major interactions between the 2 disorders.

These options are:

  1. A disturbing sleeping environment
  2. Phases of “situational stress”
  3. Sleep apnea
  4. Drug effects

“Sleepwalking has strong genetic factors, meaning that some people are naturally more at risk of experiencing this symptom. It is more likely to arise not from deep, stable sleep, but from disturbed twilight sleep. Sleepwalking is also more likely to occur when someone is sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, such as a hotel room or a sleep-deprived environment,” he said. “Again, this is likely because in these scenarios, sleep is less stable at night and more time is spent in a transitional sleep state.”

And distractions in your sleep environment could make the situation worse.

“Noise or light in the room can cause both insomnia and sleepwalking, especially if a television is on in the bedroom all night,” Standlee said. “With this type of light or noise, the brain has a hard time staying in deep, stable sleep, and the result can be either repeated full awakenings – insomnia – or partial awakenings, which predisposes you to sleepwalking.”

Another concern: attempting to treat insomnia could actually trigger episodes of sleepwalking.

“Some of the common medications used to treat insomnia can themselves cause sleepwalking,” Standlee said. “Sedatives such as zolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon, suvorexant, lemborexant and daridorexant can cause complex sleep behaviors, which include sleepwalking, but also other sleep activities such as cooking and eating, talking on the phone and driving in your sleep.”

What is the suitable method to treat insomnia and combat your sleepwalking?

Talk to your doctor first.

“If you know you have had a sleepwalking episode, a sleep study must be done,” said Andrea Matsumura, MD, a sleep medicine doctor in Portland, Oregon. “You also need to take safety measures – for example, if you live in a two-story house, you should put a barrier on your stairs and lock your windows.”

You also can discuss problems falling asleep and staying asleep with a psychologist.

“The best treatment for severe insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy,” Lee said. “This is a way to re-teach your brain and body how to sleep. By making sure the insomnia is treated and sleep is consolidated, you reduce the risk of sleepwalking.”

Good sleep hygiene also needs to be a night ritual.

“Don’t eat or exercise close to bedtime, and don’t drink caffeine for six hours beforehand,” advises Matsumura.

Yoga, meditation and deep respiratory can be helpful. If you concentrate on taking excellent care of your mind and body, you will see that it much easier to calm down.