Causes and treatment of sleepwalking in children and adults
All of us at least once heard about sleepwalkers. But few know that sleepwalking is a disease, and it is quite serious and sometimes dangerous. And what are the causes of this disease, and how to get rid of it?
What is it?
Sleepwalking( often referred to as somnambulism) is a condition in which a person in a dream says, walks or does some ill-considered actions.
At the same time, the feelings of the sleepwalker persist: his eyes are open, he sees everything, hears and feels everything. But since the brain, in fact, does not fully work, all actions are unconscious. But why does this happen? In general, a person immersed in a state of sleep, is in several phases of it.
After falling asleep, there comes a phase of superficial sleep. There are no dreams at this stage, but muscle activity persists. A person can make movements, turn over, change his position and so on. Then comes the phase of deep sleep. There are also phases of slow and fast sleep.
In the first case, the whole body is completely relaxed. With a fast sleep, the sleeper sees dreams, his eyeballs move quickly, as if he is watching some dynamic events. Scientists have found that attacks of sleepwalking usually fall in the phase of deep slow sleep.
If at all the others at this stage the whole body is completely relaxed, and the brain is practically turned off, then the lunatics continue to work some parts of the brain, and the muscle activity is preserved.
It is known that approximately 3-6% of the population suffers from sleepwalking.
Most often this condition is diagnosed in children 6-10 years old, and the first minor manifestations can occur as early as 3-4 years. In most cases, seizures go to 14-16 years, but some manifestations are observed in adulthood.
What are the causes of sleepwalking in children and adults? It is believed that this disease is hereditary and in most cases is transmitted from generation to generation. But even if there is a predisposition, manifestations may be completely absent, since a definite push is needed.
We list the main factors, the influence of which can provoke the development of sleepwalking:
- Stresses, experiences. Often manifestations arise after some disturbing events.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages or taking drugs.
- Head injuries of different severity. Even a concussion can lead to undesirable consequences.
- Severe overwork, fatigue.
- Violation of wakefulness and sleep. So, if a person does not regularly get enough sleep, the work of his brain can be disrupted, which will provoke an attack of sleepwalking.
- Some congenital abnormalities in the structure of the brain.
- Acute infections that affect the tissues or membranes of the brain.
- Glistular invasion( toxic substances released by helminths can enter the brain with blood).
- Some physical or chronic diseases, such as epilepsy.
- Neuroses, depression.
- Taking some medications.
We list the manifestations of sleepwalking:
- Conversations in a dream. Often a person utters unreasonable phrases and words that may seem delusional. But if you ask a sleepwalker about something, then he can support the conversation.
- Sleep in an unusual position, for example, sitting or even standing, leaning against the support.
- Sleep with open eyes. But the view is unfocused and detached. The sleeper seems to be looking through objects.
- Movements in a dream. It all depends on the degree of the disease. So, with sleepwalking of a light form, a sleeper can simply sit in a bed, then lie down again. With a severe form of somnambulism, a person can get up, walk around the room or apartment, take some items and even leave the room. There are cases when lunatics dressed, took keys from the car, started it and went somewhere. And this is extremely dangerous, because the feeling of fear in this state is dulled, but the sleeper simply does not know what he is doing.
- Outwardly, a person can be absolutely unlike a sleeper. Some sleepwalkers perform the usual actions, so it may seem that the sleeper just woke up and decided, for example, to have a drink or eat. But in some cases, actions can be regarded as inadequate and even crazy.
- It is noteworthy that in the morning after awakening the sleepwalker does not remember anything of his nightly adventures absolutely nothing, he will think that he slept sweetly all night in his bed.
The duration of the attack can be different. Some sleepwalkers "walk in a dream" not for long and only have time to get out of bed or just sit in it, after which they fall asleep. But others can "wander" for several hours.
The attack of sleepwalking: what can you do, and what can not be done?
What if you were next to a sleepwalker during an attack? First of all, ensure its safety. Close the front door, remove all cutting, pricking and other potentially dangerous items. You can go to the sleeper, affectionately turn to him by name, take him by the hand and lead him to bed, and then lay him down and calm him. As a rule, most sleepwalkers dutifully fall asleep.
What can not be done? Do not try to wake the sleepwalker, especially sharply or roughly. He is in a phase of deep sleep, and a sharp awakening can greatly scare him. So no sharp action, shouting or trying to push the sleeper!
How to cure sleepwalking? There is no specific treatment, it is necessary to eliminate the main cause of this condition. To begin with it is necessary to address to the neurologist and to tell about night "adventures".The doctor will ask about when the seizures began, which preceded their onset, as the lunatic behaves.
It will require the help of a loved one, because only he can describe the behavior of the sleeper during an attack. The specialist may prescribe some diagnostic procedures, such as cerebral dopplerography or magnetic resonance imaging. If any serious disorder or disease is detected, then immediately begin treatment.
How to get rid of the symptoms of somnambulism and reverse the manifestations of this disease? Some measures will help to significantly improve the condition. Some tips:
- It is extremely important to observe sleep and wakefulness. It is necessary to give enough time to sleep( an adult needs at least 8-9 hours a day, a child - about 12), and also try to fall asleep and wake up at one time.
- Do not overwork. If you feel very tired, rest.
- Try to avoid stress.
- In some cases, sedation may be required.
- Dosage and hypnotics may be prescribed.
- Before going to bed, ventilate the room and block the windows with thick curtains.
- Do not take tonics at night( strong tea, coffee).
- Do not eat before going to bed. You can drink a glass of milk, yogurt or kefir.
- You need to sleep in silence.
- You can try to listen to pleasant relaxing music before going to sleep. A child should sing a lullaby or tell a fairy tale.
- Before going to bed, you should empty your bladder. To consume at night a lot of liquid should not be.
- Massage will help to relax.
- You can take a bath before going to bed.
- Reduce to a minimum the amount of alcohol consumed, but rather abandon it altogether.
- It is worth paying attention to aromatherapy. Thus, essential oils of neroli, patchouli, bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, marjoram, lemon balm have a soothing effect. But you should consult a doctor beforehand.
- Try to come up with some kind of relaxing and sleep tuning ritual. So, you can take a walk, then drink a glass of kefir, then watch your favorite photos, and then go to bed.
And remember that sleepwalking is not a verdict or a stigma. With such a state, you can and should fight. And the above tips will help you cope with this problem.