Sleepwalking occurs in approximately 15% of the population. However, adult sleep walking affects only one percent and most adult sleepwalkers began the disorder during childhood. In some cases, sleepwalking in adults can result in violent behavior.
There are several possible causes for sleepwalking in adults, including stress, fatigue and alcohol or drug abuse. According to recent research from the University Hospital in Bern Switzerland, sleepwalking may be a genetic disorder.
Other contributing factors were various health problems including mental health issues and sleep apnea. Over half of the 74 patients tested reported episodes of sleepwalking during childhood.
Sleepwalking occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. This is also the dream stage of sleep. Under normal conditions, as soon as a sleeper slips into REM sleep, the body becomes paralyzed to protect the person from acting out his/her dreams. However in sleepwalking this paralysis does not occur leaving the person vulnerable to harming himself or even others as he tries to enact his dreams.
This is the opposite of the disorder known as sleep paralysis where the victim awakens while his body is paralyzed. This disorder is often accompanied by vivid and frightening hallucinations as the sleeper brings his dreams with him into the waking world.
Research continues into the relationship between genes and various sleep disorders. One can only hope that this research may eventually result in adequate treatments or even cures for these disorders.
In the meantime, if you or someone you love tends to walk in his sleep, here are some suggestions:
Have a complete physical to rule out any health conditions that may be causing or aggravating the condition.
Ask your doctor to refer you to a sleep lab for a sleep study to rule out other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Try to keep to a regular sleep schedule.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Remember, this may include prescribed drugs, so check with your doctor.
Make sure the sleepwalker sleeps in a safe place, preferably a downstairs bedroom. If upstairs, windows and balcony doors should be locked and stairs gated. Remove any objects that he could trip over. Lock outside doors to prevent the victim wandering out into the street.
（来源: funtrivia.com 英语点津 Helen 编辑）