Sleepwalking

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Causes of Fatigue Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideSleep Disorders Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Sleeping Disorders

Sleep Disorders Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Sleeping Disorders

What are symptoms of sleepwalking?

Following are examples of symptoms of sleepwalking.

  • Episodes range from quiet walking around the room to agitated running or attempts to "escape." The person sleepwalking may appear clumsy and dazed in his or her behavior.
  • Typically, the eyes are open with a glassy, staring appearance as the person quietly roams around the house. They do not, however, walk with their arms extended in front of them as is inaccurately depicted in movies.
  • On questioning the person sleepwalking, responses are slow with simple thoughts, contain nonsense phraseology or absent responses. If the person is returned to bed without awakening, they usually do not remember the event.
  • Older children, who may awaken more easily at the end of an episode, often are embarrassed by the behavior (especially if it was inappropriate). In lieu of walking, some children perform repeated behaviors (such as straightening their pajamas). Bedwetting may also occur.
  • Sleepwalking is not associated with previous sleep problems, sleeping alone in a room or with others, fear of the dark (achluophobia), or anger outbursts.
  • Some studies suggest that children who sleepwalk may have been more restless sleepers between the ages of four and five, and more restless with more frequent awakenings during the first year of life.

What are the signs and tests for sleepwalking?

Usually, no exams and tests are necessary. However, a medical evaluation may be completed to rule out medical causes of sleepwalking.

Additionally, a psychological evaluation can determine whether excessive stress oranxiety is the cause of sleepwalking.

Sleep study tests may be done in persons in whom the diagnosis is still unclear.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/2/2016
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