There can be many causes of sleepwalking. Sleepwalking in children is fairly common, it’s estimated as high as 17%, and most will outgrow it by the late teens or early twenties. In some cases, childhood sleepwalkers will continue sleepwalking throughout their adult life. Adult sleepwalking is much less commonplace, and occurs in about 4% of the adult population. Adult sleepwalking can begin at anytime during one’s adult life.
What Are The Common Causes Of Sleepwalking?
1. Genetics: There is a very strong genetic/family link to sleepwalking disorder. The chances of you having it are increased nearly tenfold, if your parents or other first level relatives sleepwalked as children or adults.
2. Stress: Physical or emotional stress is one of the most common causes of sleepwalking.
3. New Surroundings: Sleeping in an unfamiliar place, such as a hotel, or visiting overnight with a friend or relative, can bring about sleepwalking episodes.
4. Hormones: Puberty, pregnancy, and pre-menstrual syndrome are often triggers for sleepwalking.
5. Sleep Deprivation: Severe lack of sleep can activate sleepwalking episodes, even in people who do not sleepwalk otherwise.
6. Alcohol or Drug Use/Abuse: Sleepwalking is not uncommon among people who drink heavily late in the evening, or partake of certain recreational drugs.
7. Noise and Light
8. Certain Medical Conditions: Several medical conditions are common causes of sleepwalking:
- Fever (Especially in children)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Hyperthyroidism (Overproduction of Thyroid Hormones)
- Migraine Headaches
- Bloated Stomach
- Head Injury
9. Some Medications: Certain prescription sleep aids have caused sleepwalking and some very bizarre behaviour such as sleep driving, sleep eating and sleep sexual activities. Some over-the-counter sleep aids have been known to trigger sleepwalking events. Also, anti-arrhythmic medicines, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-seizure meds, stimulants and anti-histamines have been known to be causes of sleepwalking.
10. Other Sleep-Related Disorders: Sleepwalking is often a partner to Sleep Terrors. Some sleepwalkers are also prone to nightmares. Chronic insomniacs sometimes will sleepwalk as well. Adult sleepwalking is potentially dangerous! Many people have been seriously injured, usually from falls, or other accidents. Sometimes, somnambulists have died as a result of their injuries. There are even cases on record of people committing murder or other serious crimes while sleepwalking.