Is Sleepwalking a Sign of Mental Illness?

Sleeping is considered quite a quiet job for human beings. It is when we sleep that the mind is known to be in a state of rest. It is also quite clear that if we do not get enough amount of sleep, then there are higher chances of having bad health.

Sleep disorders are one of the major reasons for having bad mental health conditions. It is due to sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders that most people sleepwalk. These sleepwalking episodes may seem quite terrifying, but these are quite some natural human conditions and nothing to worry about.

1. Sleepwalking in General Terms

Sleepwalking is something that is found in common in children. While children grow, it is seen that they experience sleepwalking episodes more often.

However, it may seem quite easy to figure out, but it is never a harmless occurrence. Sleepwalking has different hazardous complications, like a person being vulnerable to injuries. Apart from that, because you do not have your consciousness during this occurrence, there are strong chances that you may get hit somewhere unknowingly.

Is Sleepwalking a Sign of Mental Illness
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There are also strong chances of having a vital connection between mental health and sleepwalking. Some mental health conditions trigger sleepwalking sometimes. People having bad mental health are more prone to having this.

On a vice-versa basis, people having sleepwalking disorders can also trigger bad mental health conditions. Not necessarily, but this can also create some negative impacts on your every day relationships and also your day-to-day lifestyle.

Hence, it is better to have a piece of insight into your sleepwalking condition so that you can keep a check on your mental health condition.

2. What is Sleepwalking?

An abnormal sleep disorder, also known as a kind of parasomnia, is a sleepwalking disorder that can be found in a lot of the population. This mostly happens after falling asleep, and the condition is between the state of sleep and before waking.

This state of mind is not so regular, and people who sleepwalk do not even recall their sleepwalking episodes often. It occurs so unconsciously that it seems quite an unusual behavior and brings night terrors.

Once you fall asleep, this condition starts gulping down within a few hours. It also depends on your sleep habits and also creates mental health issues.

According to certain research, it is believed that sleepwalking is most common among children, and almost every child goes through it. But once they grow older, gradually, they will get out of it.

However, about 18% of the whole population gets a sleepwalking episode at some point in their life. Sleepwalking occurs, and they also have no idea of what they would have done in that timespan.

Hence, it is not that only children get to sleepwalk; adults also go through it most in their lifetime. This makes the risk of sleepwalking a little spooky, and it becomes necessary to know the causes of sleepwalking.

2.1 Symptoms of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking episodes can vary differently, and with different people, it looks different. There is never an airtight space for what sleepwalking actually is.

On a regular basis, as we know, sleepwalking means walking in sleep. But, diving deep into the topic, you can find out that sleepwalking does not necessarily always mean walking in sleep. It’s way more different than that.

2.1.1 Just Giving Weird Expressions

Sometimes, sleepwalking not only means walking in sleep but a little more than that. The sleepwalker can also be sleepwalking if he or she is carrying a vacant expression on their face or is having glassy eyes.

Is Sleepwalking a Sign of Mental Illness
By belchonock / Depositphotos. Copyright 2023.

While you try to communicate with them, and if they turn unresponsive, then there are higher chances of them sleepwalking. So, to know if a person is sleepwalking or not without actually walking, it is better to interact with them.

2.1.2 Being Dressed and So

There is a category of sleepwalkers who do not walk in this particular state but attempt to get dressed, and that refers to being in a sleep state. They also get involved in random activities like moving furniture or running errands in the house.

However, another term, Sexsomnia is introduced to treat the matter in a better way. People who sleepwalk also sometimes get involved in sexual activity, which makes the situation quite embarrassing.

While doing so, because the person is not in a conscious state, they have no particular idea of what they were up to. Apart from this, some sleepwalkers also urinate while sleeping, so the activities continue.

2.1.3 Creating Dangerous Scenarios

Moving ahead of these specific symptoms, there are studies that determine that, sometimes, sleepwalking can be too dangerous. Adults who sleepwalk have a higher chance of performing violent acts, which can require treatment.

As this occurs mostly at night, night terrors are also another topic to discuss. This not only hampers the patient’s sleep cycle but also becomes the reason for sleep deprivation among close members.

3. Why Does Sleepwalking Happen?

We do not have a single way of describing what sleepwalking actually is. In a similar way, there are many factors why sleepwalking happens.

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It is also a matter of fact that the reasons for sleepwalking can be different for every individual. Here are some reasons why one sleepwalks after falling asleep.

3.1 Genetics or Having Sleep Apnea

We carry many health factors from our generation to the next generation. Similarly, sleepwalking can also be a genetic disorder, just like having psychiatric disorders. If your father or any family member has sleep disorders, you are quite prone to having such obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It is also possible that having other sleep disorders like sleep apnea can be the reason for your sleep terrors. It is one of the problems you may face in your respiratory system, which can interrupt your sleep.

3.2 Having Illness or Fevers

Physical illness can affect your regular habits a lot. This illness includes fever, a headache or migraine, major depressive disorder, or even having medications that have a sleeping side effect.

People take a lot of medications, and in some of them, sleep medicine can affect a lot in your sleepwalking episode. When someone goes through a fever, they can get a lot of psychological fears, which can also impact sleepwalking.

3.3 Excessive Sleeping or Improper Sleeping

It is quite an interesting fact that most people do not get enough amount of sleep at night because of excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleeping mostly in the daytime can get the drowsiness out of you. Due to this, you may not feel like having a proper sleep in the nighttime.

Along with that, it is always recommended to pee before sleeping. But sometimes, people go to sleep, which becomes one of the underlying conditions of sleepwalking or sleeptalking.

4. Does Mental Health Really Affect Sleepwalking?

With different mental health conditions, it is quite common that one may get sleep issues. The preexisting mental health condition can also result in making you sleepwalking.

Experiencing stress that is too heightened or chronic can be one of the triggering reasons for your stress. Mostly, sleepwalking is something like dreaming. Whatever we think of all day or what we believe is happening, that is what we dream of.

Similarly, if you are experiencing episodes of anxiety or anger throughout the day, then there are high chances of you sleepwalking and blabbering about the same topic you are feeling anxious about.

The same study also found that the deepest stage of sleepwalking can be due to feeling aggression. It is quite clear that people who sleepwalk are quite taken aback by their feelings of aggression.

It is this aggression and the unresolved conflicts while being at work that can result in experiencing sleepwalking. Living your daily life with unprocessed trauma can be a huge contributing factor to your illness.

Other mental health conditions, such as mental health issues, slow-wave sleep, or even deep sleep, sometimes add up to the risk of experiencing sleepwalking. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, being an alcohol addict, having major depressive disorders, or even being a schizophrenic are other reasons why older adults sleepwalk from time to time.

5. How Sleepwalking Affects Mental Health?

Our mental health is quite affected by the sleep condition that we possess. The National Sleep Foundation has found out that people who do not get enough 8 hours of sleep at least a day can go through hazardous mental health conditions.

Sleep disorder is one of the underrated medical conditions that require relaxation techniques to calm down. The rapid eye movement all throughout the day makes us feel tired, and due to inadequate sleep, sleepwalking occurs.

According to the Stanford University School, people sleepwalking are more prone to fatigue. They do not experience a peaceful night’s sleep, and this fatigue diversely affects their psychological health.

How sleep affects your emotions | Sleeping with Science, a TED series

This routine activity of sleepwalking can be a very shameful experience and can cause embarrassment for grown-up people. But sadly, they do not have any control over this action. This embarrassment can be very bad for the reputation of the adults.

This odd behavior can also create strain in your relationships. Once this disorder runs in families, it can create hollow mental health challenges. The person with whom you might be sleeping can get sleep terrors with this behavior.

The night terrors can also be experienced by people who sleepwalk, and this negative impact can be on their whole daily life. It can also be the reason for creating anxiety and making you feel depressed, for nothing is wrong.

6. Prevention and Coping with Sleepwalking

It has always been a ritual in our society that they start ignoring psychiatric disorders for the better sake. But, this has never been fruitful; rather, it has always degraded the situation.

Similarly, if one is experiencing sleepwalking, then considering it at first is really necessary. It should never be ignored because it can cause fatal issues. This can also affect your health and well-being minutely, which significantly can cause physical harm around your surroundings.

6.1 Measures to Prevent Sleepwalking

This mental health condition should be given top priority, and certain medications and preventive measures should be taken for the betterment of both physical and mental health.

6.1.1 Medical Treatment

Just like every problem has a certain solution, similarly, this problem, if addressed, also can be resolved easily. First, you need to visit your healthcare or make an appointment with a sleep specialist. By doing so, at least you can address your problem with someone.

Recognizing your health issues at first is very necessary, as it gives you deep insight into your happenings. In this way, your underlying sleepwalking can also get light, and you can know the reasons why you are facing the same.

6.1.2 Keep the Surrounding Safe

It becomes also necessary to be away from sharp objects as much as possible. It is because when a child sleepwalks, he has no idea of the given surroundings. In this stage, it is also difficult to wake up, so it becomes quite harmful.

Hence, it becomes important to lock the windows and the doors properly before going to sleep. Doing this can somehow prevent your close ones from getting harmed while sleepwalking.

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There are also chances that your psychological health can be the reason for the heightened stress. In this case, it is better to visit a therapist who can be truly effective in solving the issue.

With time, this can gradually decrease the chances of sleepwalking. With that, you can also learn how to manage your stress to avoid sleep eating.

6.1.3 Cognitive-behavioral Therapy

This is a type of psychotherapy that becomes too effective in treating another reason for sleepwalking, which is anxiety. Major mental health conditions are guided through this process, which can be the reason for your mental stress, causing sleepwalking.

7. Conclusion

With the given knowledge, it is quite clear that sleepwalking is an underrated medical condition that needs to be addressed more. Although it is not a proper illness, it somehow triggers the psyche of the human. If certain medications are used, it can be cured properly.

Deveedutta is a gym freak for long and he loves sweating out between the metals around. He has been there and has gained enough experience to train and answer queries related to fitness. He is a graduate and is currently pursuing his masters in law. He…

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