Have you ever woken up feeling a little under the weather and wondered if you unknowingly went for a walk at midnight?
It might be more likely than you think, according to a new study from a sleep technology company. Simba which suggests that up to 20 percent of us sleepwalk.
According to The Sleep Charity, sleepwalking episodes typically last from a few seconds to half an hour and occur during deep sleep, the slow, non-REM part of the sleep cycle that occurs in the first few hours after falling asleep.
Lisa Artis, sleep consultant at The Sleep Charity, has given five signs that you may be sleepwalking, as well as advice on how to deal with the problem in yourself and others.
So how do you know if you have sleepwalking? Find out by reading on.
As many as one in five people could sleepwalk, so have you ever thought you might be one of them?
In extreme cases, people may wander outside while sleepwalking, so watch out for unexplained muddy shoes in the morning.
Dishes left out in the kitchen are another sign; eating is the sixth most common sleepwalking activity, new research finds
How to know if you have sleepwalking
Someone tell you
The most obvious sign would be if someone told you.
If you’re sharing a bed with a partner, although you might think they’re turning you on, sleepwalking is far from subtle and may disturb them if they’re asleep.
And even though waking a sleepwalking person doesn’t harm them – contrary to popular belief – it’s still more practical to try to guide someone to bed rather than interrupt their sleep if they walk.
So you may be none the wiser by the time you wake up if your partner saw you sleepwalking.
Your coat is on
In some cases of sleepwalking, people have been known to open the wardrobe and change as if they were going to work or going out for the day.
So, if you’ve been sleepwalking, you may wake up completely disconcerted wearing a brand new outfit.
Hike by starlight
Along the same lines, some extreme cases involve people leaving their homes and going for walks or even driving.
So if you think you’ve been sleepwalking, it might be worth checking your shoes to see if they’ve moved or if there’s a trace of mud on the soles.
If you think you might be suffering from such extreme sleepwalking, try to keep the environment safe by keeping your shoes and car keys in harder-to-reach places.
Food for thought
If you wake up to cookie wrappers on the floor or leftovers in the kitchen that you don’t remember eating, you may have had a secret midnight snack.
You can even start cooking at night and find pots, pans and other utensils on the side.
According to the new study, eating is the sixth most common sleepwalking activity in the UK, ahead of cleaning and moving furniture.
One or two episodes of sleepwalking are usually nothing to worry about, but if you constantly feel tired, nighttime disturbances might be happening more than you think.
Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder and it may be time to seek professional help.
Not getting enough sleep can trigger sleepwalking. So you might find yourself in a spiral and need something to break this behavior.
How to deal with sleepwalking
Whether you sleepwalk yourself or live with a sleepwalker, it can be extremely worrying to think about what might unexpectedly happen to you or your loved one overnight.
So, Ms. Artis also gave 10 ways to help deal with sleepwalking.
Know the triggers
Although the exact mechanisms that cause sleepwalking are unknown, there are known links between the behavior and certain habits or “triggers.”
Ms Artis said: ‘It can be hereditary and triggered by jet lag, lack of sleep, stress, fever, illness, drugs and alcohol, certain medications for conditions such as epilepsy and psychosis, as well as antihistamines.” Sleep apnea is also a risk factor.
“It is not recommended to stop taking prescribed medicines without a doctor’s advice, so speak to your GP if you have any concerns about side effects.
“And try to avoid consuming alcohol in the evening, at least three hours before bed.”
Don’t wake someone up unless you have to.
According to the sleep consultant, you should not attempt to wake a sleepwalker unless you feel the need to do so, although the claim that waking them up can hurt or shock them is a “myth.”
She added: “It can be difficult to wake a sleepwalker and they may become disoriented or even lash out at those who try to wake them.
“Obviously if they wander it’s important to keep them safe and gently return them to bed.”
Using the toilet before bed
Going to the bathroom ranked fifth in the study for activities while sleepwalking, meaning making yourself less likely to need to go could prevent you from sleepwalking at all.
“It is beneficial to empty your bladder just before lights out, as needing to go to the toilet at night is disruptive and can reduce incidents of sleepwalking,” Ms Artis said.
Remove Obvious Dangers
This may seem a bit extreme, but for persistent night travelers, it may be a good idea to put away the car keys and keep the front door properly locked or locked from the inside, to stay safe, especially when you are staying in an unfamiliar place like a hotel.
Keep the floor clear of tripping hazards, and children who tend to get up at night should always sleep on the bottom bunk to avoid any accidents.
You can install stair gates to protect your child from falling down the stairs.
Top 10 most common sleepwalking activities in the UK
- Get out of bed
- Sitting in bed
- Go to the toilet
- While drinking
- Moving furniture
- Take a shower/bath
Stick to a healthy sleep schedule
Lack of sleep is a common factor contributing to sleepwalking, which is why sleepwalkers will benefit from a sleep routine that provides them with good quality sleep every night.
“Consistency is important,” Ms. Artis said, “so you should aim to go to bed and get up at the same time — even on weekends — with a wind-down evening routine that will give you the best chance of enjoying of a deep and restful sleep. sleep.’
Use motion detectors or alarms
Staying up all night to watch over someone is neither practical nor sustainable.
A motion sensor, similar to a baby monitor, can do the work for you and detect any activity.
It might even alert a sleepwalker enough to wake them up or encourage them to go back to bed.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
If sleepwalking occurs during times of high stress, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help.
Disruptive life changes such as bereavement, divorce or redundancy can have a huge impact on mental health, and Ms Artis said it is “proven to improve insomnia and sleepwalking”.
Use early wake-up
Sleepwalking often occurs at the same time each night, so if this is your partner’s situation, you can try gently waking the sleepwalker just before they usually sleepwalk to reset their sleep cycle and break the habit.
Likewise, if you are in any way aware of sleepwalking at a regular time – perhaps you have seen it on CCTV – consider setting an alarm which will have the same effect.
Pay attention to your “sleep hygiene”
Sleep hygiene refers to both sleep-related behaviors and the overall sleep space.
Our sleeping environment has a great influence on the quality of our sleep. We must therefore ensure that our bedroom is quiet, dark and relaxing before and during sleeping hours, with an optimal room temperature between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius.
Ditch electronic distractions for the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Find your nearest sleep clinic
Sleep clinics can treat parasomnias, types of sleep disorders, such as sleepwalking, that tend to overlap the two states of sleep and wakefulness.
This tends to involve patients participating in a sleep study, where they are observed while sleeping.