What Is Sleepwalking (Somnambulism)?

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism or noctambulism, is the combined phenomena of sleeping and wakefulness. Sleepwalking — also known as somnambulism — involves getting up and walking while being in a drowsy state. Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a condition where an unconscious person displays behaviors associated with being awake, appearing awake, but is in fact still asleep.

Sleepwalking (also called Somnambulism) is the act of getting up in the night to walk around or perform some other task. Called somnambulism, sleepwalking is a sleep disorder known as parasomnia, which is behaviors and activities occurring while asleep. Sleepwalking is a type of arousal parasomnia, or abnormal activity in the dream. Unlike other sleep disorders, sleepwalking is not associated with behavioral or emotional problems during the day.


Accidents during these episodes may result in injuries, and sleepwalking is associated with poor sleep and drowsiness at daytime. Sleepwalking in adults has a high likelihood of being confused or coexisting with other sleep disorders, as well as health conditions. It is unknown whether these problems occur due to the actual disruptions caused by the sleepwalking, or whether there is underlying factors affecting the sleep of sleepwalking individuals which makes them at risk of both the sleepwalking and the daytime drowsiness.

Alternative explanations for murderous or violent sleepwalking include malingering, medication-induced amnesia, and other disorders where violence related to sleep can occur, such as REM sleep behavior disorder, fugitive states, and episodic ambulatory wandering. Sleepwalking is classified as a behavioral disorder called parasomnias, alongside sleeping problems like nightmares, bedwetting, and even sleep-related hallucinations. Sleepwalking (somniloquy) occurs more commonly in deeper, non-REM sleep, called N3 sleep, earlier in the evening.

Sleepwalking occurs more commonly in the first third of the nights sleep, or other longer periods of sleep. The period of deep sleep is at its highest during the first part of the night, which is why sleepwalking often occurs during the first hours after falling asleep. Because sleepwalking is associated with a particular sleep phase, sleepwalking usually occurs at about the same time every night.


Sleepwalking typically happens as you transition from the deepest sleep stage to a lighter one, or as you wake up. It typically happens during the deepest phase of NREM sleep, also known as Stage N3 or Slow Wave Sleep. Sleepwalking is an excitement disorder, meaning that the dreaming occurs in the N3 sleep stage, which is the deepest phase of slow-wave sleep (NREM). Sleepwalking typically occurs in deep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and therefore occurs more frequently during the first third of the night, when these stages of sleep are more prevalent.

Sleepwalking involves walking around or engaging in other behaviors when one is still largely asleep. Sleepwalking is a condition where someone gets out of bed and may engage in activities while still sleeping. Sleep experts think sleepwalking usually happens when someone is in a stage of deep sleep, and they become partially conscious in a way that causes them to physically act while remaining largely asleep. Sleepwalking does not usually occur while naps, as the resulting sleep is not deep enough.

At the end of each episode, the sleepwalking person can either wake up, or go back to sleep. The episode typically ends with the sleepwalker returning to sleep, without any memory of the episode afterwards.


Sleepwalking episodes, or ruminations, typically include mundane activities that may range from the mundane–sitting up in the bed or going to the bathroom–to the extreme, including getting into a car and driving. Sometimes, sleepwalking involves actions which are gross, odd, or are performed in an inappropriate location.

Keep in mind, sleepwalking people are usually hard to wake up from, and will be initially confused as to where they are. You can keep the person from experiencing the kind of partial wake-ups that could result in a sleepwalk simply by waking them just before they begin waking. If left undisturbed, most sleepwalkers simply fall back asleep, however, they may be doing so in an unusual or different location, so you will want to gently nudge them back into their bed.

Children who are sleeping walking often have sleep talking and sleep terrors. Sleepwalking is quite common in children, and they generally outgrow it by the time they are teenagers. They generally outgrow the sleepwalking behavior by the time they are 12. Childhood sleepwalking typically goes away by itself around the time they hit puberty, but can continue for much longer.


Sleepwalking is more common in children than adults, and is more likely to occur if an individual has a family history of the condition, is deprived of sleep, or is prone to repeated awakenings during the night. Sleepwalking is more likely to happen in slow-wave and early-night sleep – around 1 to 2 hours after going to bed, according to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Sleepwalking can also happen to people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, who have nightmares that end in yelling, struggling, or jumping from their beds.

What happens when a person sleepwalks Some episodes of sleepwalking may involve simply sitting in bed looking around, appearing confused for a short time, whereas others can include getting out of bed and walking, opening cabinets, getting dressed, or eating, and can look excited. Sleepwalking can also occur several times per night, over several nights. Sleepwalking, officially known as somnambulism, is a behavioral disorder that arises in deep sleep, resulting in walking or performing other complicated behaviors while remaining largely asleep.

Episodes of walking in ones sleep will typically occur in the first four hours of sleep at night, but never in the daytime. At that time, Sigmund Freud suggested that the essence of a sleepwalking was a desire to sleep in the same region where a person had slept as a child.

This post was proofread with Grammarly.

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