Advertisement

What causes sleepwalking?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Sleepwalking is a mysterious behavior. It sends the heroine of Bellini's opera La Sonnambula into the wrong man's boudoir. Some sleepwalkers drive cars, eat, or simply change where they sleep. There have even been homicides during sleepwalking.

Neurologists aren't sure what combination of genetic predisposition and environmental disturbance launches people out of bed like zombies. However, brain scans tell us that it happens during the non-REM (non-dreaming) stage of sleep and is linked to anxiety, stress, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Sleepwalking can have different causes. Common triggers include stress, anxiety, new surroundings, being premenstrual, fever, fatigue, alcohol consumption, and some medications. The behavior can also have a serious underlying medical cause such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, migraine headaches, seizures, stroke, brain inflammation, or head injury.

Continue Learning about Sleepwalking

What is sleepwalking (somnambulism)?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
When you sleepwalk, you open your eyes and either sit up in bed or get out of bed and walk around, ...
More Answers
Should I talk to my doctor about my sleepwalking?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
There is no one treatment for sleepwalking, but you may want to consult your doctor if you sleepwalk...
More Answers
Are there alternative treatments for sleepwalking?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Sleepwalking can be treated with hypnosis, and getting more sleep may prevent the condition. People ...
More Answers
How is sleepwalking diagnosed?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
If you think you sleepwalk, chances are good that someone you live with told you. Unless you are cau...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.