John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Sleepwalking facts
- What is sleepwalking?
- What are the causes, incidence, and risk factors of sleepwalking?
- What are associated factors to consider?
- What are symptoms of sleepwalking?
- What are the signs and tests for sleepwalking?
- What other conditions will my doctor consider before diagnosing sleepwalking?
- What is the treatment for sleepwalking?
- What is the prognosis of sleepwalking?
- What are the complications of sleepwalking?
- When should you call your health care practitioner about sleepwalking?
- How can I prevent sleepwalking?
- Find a local Sleep Specialist in your town
What are associated factors to consider?
Sleepwalking seems to be associated with inherited (genetic), environmental, physiologic, and medical factors.
Sleepwalking occurs more frequently in identical twins, and is 10 times more likely to occur if a first-degree relative has a history of sleepwalking.
Sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, fever, stress, magnesium deficiency, and alcohol intoxication can trigger sleepwalking. Drugs, for example, sedative/hypnotics (drugs that promote sleep), neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychosis), minor tranquilizers (drugs that produce a calming effect), stimulants (drugs that increase activity), and antihistamines (drugs used to treat symptoms of allergies) can cause sleepwalking.
Physiologic factors that may contribute to sleepwalking include:
- the length and depth of slow wave sleep, which is greater in young children, may be a factor in the increased frequency of sleepwalking in children;
- conditions such as pregnancy and menstruation are known to increase the frequency of sleepwalking;
- associated medical conditions;
- arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms);
- gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux - food or liquid regurgitating from the stomach into the food pipe);
- nighttime asthma;
- nighttime seizures (convulsions);
- obstructive sleep apnea (condition in which breathing stops temporarily while sleeping); and
- psychiatric disorders, for example, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, or dissociative states (for example, multiple personality disorder)
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