Common Things That Sleepwalkers Do

Sleepwalking is a lot more common than you probably think. According to the NHS, at least 20% of children sleepwalk at least once, while an independent study reckons that one third of people in the UK have experienced sleepwalking[1]. At Bensons for Beds, we understand that it isn’t just a comfortable mattress on a king-size bed that’s going to keep you from going for a wander in the land of nod. That’s why we’ve looked in to sleepwalking; to dispel some common myths, offer some practical information, and explore a few common things that sleepwalkers do, so you can recognise the behaviour if it happens to you or someone in your family.

What do sleepwalkers do?

1) Sleepwalkers have been known to talk loudly, acting out conversations and even send nonsensical texts. A common fear is that we will reveal some embarrassing truths in our sleep, but sleepwalkers are much more likely to simply sit up in bed and speak gibberish than confess their deepest secrets.

2) People commonly dream about work, and few things are as ingrained into us as the gruelling process of rolling out of our duvet and getting ready for a day at the office. It should come as no surprise therefore that a lot of sleepwalkers begin their daily routine a little early. They might go for a shower, brush their teeth, and change into their uniform without even being aware of it.

3) Cooking is another familiar routine that sleepwalkers often engage in unawares. They’re capable of operating kitchen equipment, from knives to frying pans, and sitting down afterwards to enjoy their sleep-cooked meal. This normally isn’t as dangerous as it sounds, though it can make for a messy wake-up call.

Why do some people sleepwalk?

Sleepwalking is believed to be at least partly genetic. This isn’t exclusive, but you are more likely to sleepwalk if members of your close family exhibit such behaviours. Factors known to exacerbate sleepwalking include poor sleep regimes, stress and anxiety, or simply abrupt wakefulness because you need the toilet. Children have been known to climb down from their bunkbeds and mistake a cupboard for the loo during episodes of sleepwalking.

Sleepwalkers might have their eyes open, but they’ve been shown to not recognise people that try to engage them. They also might partially respond to verbal communication, though their responses probably won’t make much sense.

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t hurt or damage a sleepwalker to wake them up. It will make them disoriented however, so often it’s best to let an episode of sleep-walking run its course. Keep the person safe and try to gently guide them back to bed if you can. Typically, such episodes last for less than 10 minutes, and the individual will probably have no recollection of anything that happened during that time.

Isn’t sleepwalking dangerous?

Sleepwalkers can potentially engage in more dangerous activities, but the scariest examples are extreme and uncommon. Infamous cases have shown that sleepwalkers are capable of complicated activities like driving, and there have been cases of sleepwalkers jumping out of windows, or unwittingly committing crimes – but these situations are exceptionally rare.

It is still uncertain what causes sleepwalking, but episodes can often be alleviated by improving your sleep habits and your general health. If you are still concerned about yours or someone else’s sleepwalking habits, speak to your GP. They might recommend simple lifestyle changes, or they may refer you to a sleep specialist.

Bensons for Beds, helping you sleep a little easier.


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