Sleepwalking in adults and children. The reasons. Symptoms Security

Disease sleepwalking is a highly surprising phenomenon, it spawned many myths, paradoxically connected signs of wakefulness and sleep, norms and pathology.

The name lunacy is not entirely successful, because walks in a dream to the lunar phases are very distantly related. Apparently it came about because these walks could be observed more often in the moonlight than in the dark.

In addition, the lunatics themselves instinctively prefer places more light for their acrobatic stunts.

It is more correct to call this phenomenon – somnambulism, a term derived from Latin words   sleep – somnus and walk – ambulo.

In the Middle Ages, illness sleepwalking was carefully hidden from the public, relatives and relatives of the patient feared persecution from the Inquisition.

The “Hammer of the Witches” instruction that existed was considered by lunatics to be possessed by evil spirits, and recommended that they be executed with fire or drowning.

It was previously thought that a sleepwalker (somnambulist) was watching a dream and doing what he was dreaming of, but research did not confirm this.

When an attack occurs

This state arises on the background of the stages of slow sleep, when dreams are rare or absent altogether. Deep, slow sleep is preserved if the fragment of the walk is short. If the episode is long, then electroencephalographic signs of wakefulness or drowsiness appear.

The duration and severity of such episodes are different. The easiest case: the person sits on the bed, mumbles something slurred, and immediately falls asleep again. With a longer episode, a sleepwalker gets up, can get dressed and go for a night walk. All actions are done with open eyes and stone face.

How does the attack

The lunatic is well-versed in his surroundings, sees everything, since all obstructive objects bypass, hears, and can even give simple answers to simple questions.

It means that he can analyze a part of the signals coming from outside, extract some information from the memory about actions and objects, known to him, necessary for the activity that he started.

Often he again   goes to bed in a completely different place, in the bathroom, for example, and is very surprised in the morning, unable to understand how he got there.

Night adventures of a somnambulist, as a rule, do not remember at all or remember very vaguely. He does not give an account of his actions to himself and does not suffer from any agony, because he is out of reality.

A person can make mischief in this state: in the United States in 1961 -n unatik girl killed in her sleep with a revolver of his father. But this case is the rarest.

Somnambulism in children

Sleeping is more common in children. It manifests itself at the age of three to 4 years. You can artificially cause such an attack, if during deep slow sleep you gently lift the child from the bed and put him on his feet.

An attack is prevented by premature waking up, invading the sleep cycle.

In children, bouts of sleepwalking pass by themselves with age, usually by age 14.

Only 1% of people who went to sleep in childhood become chronic sleepwalkers .

Warning. It is impossible to wake up a somnambulist during nightly adventures – this can cause severe fright and even psychological trauma. But to help him get to bed sometimes he needs to, it should be done as carefully as possible.

How do somnambulists behave during an attack

I.I. Mechnikov, an eminent biologist, describing the state of sleepwalking, notes that patients for the most part repeat the actions of their daily life, to which they have developed an unconscious habit.

Seamstresses sew, craftsmen perform manual work, the servant cleans shoes and clothes, covers the table. People of higher culture indulge in mental activity. There is an observation that clerics engage in composing sermons in a somnambulistic state.

Often, a somnambulist behavior goes beyond skills and habits. They go swimming to a distant river, climb trees, walk on roofs. Movement made by them with dexterity is not inherent in the waking state.

Miracles of the balancing act always shock the eyewitnesses: a person walks along the cornice, as if on a normal road. This is explained by the unconscious state of the lunatic, he does not feel the slightest internal tension, fear and constraint.


It is widely believed that a lunatic sense of danger is elevated. However, it is erroneous. Confirmation of this is frequent accidents, the risk of being injured in a state of somnambulism is very large.

It happens that patients fall out of the windows, taking them out of the door, or are injured trying to get through the glass doors. Knowing this, people exposed to the disease often take precautions: in the evening they put a basin with cold water in front of the bed, tied with a rope to the bed.

True, such measures do not always work: without waking up, they bypass the basin of water and untie the rope.

People who live together with a somnambula should take care of additional security: put bars on the windows, remove wires from under their feet, etc.

Dreams in nature are the opposite of dreams.

When we have dreams, we plunge into a fantastic and bright world, at this moment only the eyeballs move under the eyelids, making quick movements . Other movements do not occur, as the muscle tone disappears completely, we seem to be paralyzed.

The lunatic, on the contrary, moves, as in wakefulness, while being in a ghostly state without dreams, which is not fixed in his memory at all.

In the medical literature there is a description of a whole family of a somnambulist, consisting of six people. All six at night gathered in the dining room, drank tea silently, then went to their rooms to end the night with a sound sleep, in the morning they did not remember this.

The heroine of the small novel, Andre Mauro’s “House”, tells of a repeatedly recurring dream, in which she comes to a charming castle.

In the afternoon, the girl tries in vain to find him and, finally, in the vicinity of Paris, bumps into him. The owners rent the castle, since they no longer wish to live in it: there appears a ghost every night . The servant will recognize this ghost in the guest.

But what does the “ghost” remember? She remembers the castle itself and the park around, but the road along which she goes to him every night remains a secret of her unconscious memory.

Reason somnambulism

science is unknown, scientists assume hereditary predisposition: if both parents are susceptible to this disease, then it is likely to be transmitted to the child.

External factors can also trigger the disease:

  • inadequateand disorderly sleep,
  • stressfulsituations that
  • excessiveuse alcohol,
  • medicinaldrugs .

In the old days, sleepwalking was treated with borage grass.

Many researchers and astrologers associate somnambulism with the impact of the moon on a person and believe that this disease (is it a disease?) Is more correct to be called sleepwalking.


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