Sleepwalking remains to be a mysterious behavioral disorder which, at the moment, has no surefire cure. However, there are different proven ways to curtail its effects, and they’re mostly about avoiding known triggers for sleepwalking.
Once you know which triggers to avoid, you can greatly lower the chances of sleepwalking incidents escalating into potentially dangerous activities by nipping it at the source.
Avoid Sleep Deprivation by Practicing Sleep Hygiene
Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation is one of the most notorious known sleepwalking triggers. It’s partly why children are more prone to sleepwalking – 3 to 5-year-olds need about 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day. In contrast, 18 to 64-year-old adults need just 7 to 9 hours of nightly/daily sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all adults in this age range get this much sleep on a regular basis. For adult sleepwalkers, these daily recommended sleeping duration times are practically mandatory.
One of the most effective ways to treat a lack of sleep is through the consistent practice of good sleep hygiene – a combination of daily habits and long-term strategies aimed at giving you a solid 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This includes vigorously exercising in the morning or late afternoon – hours before actual bedtime.
Also part of it is avoiding eating or drinking (even sleep-inducing food and drinks) 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Some sleep hygiene practices demand even more significant behavioral changes, like not using your bed to watch TV or browse the Internet, or sticking to a strict sleep schedule that identifies an exact time for sleeping and an exact time for waking up.
One thing that’s sure to help your sleep hygiene is throwing out your old, beat-up mattress and getting yourself a new one that can provide you with not just comfort but ample back support – this alone could be enough to ensure that you’re getting a good night’s sleep every night.
These are just some of the changes you can make in order to ensure that you don’t suffer from a sleepwalking incident triggered by sleep deprivation.
Alcohol is one of the most commonly available substances on the planet. It’s also one of the many sedative agents that can trigger sleepwalking. This isn’t to say that you can’t have any alcohol at all if you’re a sleepwalker. It’s just doubly important for sleepwalkers to practice moderation. Apart from being a trigger in itself, alcohol can greatly exacerbate the effects of other known triggers.
If you’re already sleep-deprived, don’t drink before going to bed. Alcohol can be a powerful mental stimulant, and it can increase the amount and level of unusual (and potentially dangerous) behavior in confirmed sleepwalkers during episodes. Even if you’re just stressed and not exactly sleep-deprived, it’s still not a good idea to drink yourself to sleep – because along with alcohol and lack of sleep, stress and anxiety are also known triggers.
Avoid (or at least Reduce) Stress and Anxiety
For those who live busy lives and juggle multiple responsibilities daily, this sounds next to impossible. However, huge amounts of stress and anxiety can, alone, be responsible for triggering episodes of sleepwalking. So if your life and/or career are causing you massive amounts of anxious stress, it’s time to make some changes.
Negotiate with the boss for a little less responsibility if possible – an option that’s more feasible if your claim to being a sleepwalker is backed by a signed document from a medical professional. You can also try inserting stress-relieving activities into your workday – such as reading an awesome book, watching an episode of your favorite TV series, or practicing yoga after work.
Another simple way to relieve anxiety and stress is by brewing and drinking tea during breaks. Pick any relaxing, decaffeinated tea like chamomile or lavender. Apart from the calming benefits of these herbs, the act of making tea can be a meditative ritual that melts away anxiety and brings about relaxation.
Even if you’re just heating water in a microwave, dipping a tea bag into your mug, and adding sugar or honey for taste, performing your own personal way of making tea mentally prepares you to be relaxed.
Be Ready for Episodes by Getting Help from Friends and Family
Sleepwalking in itself can be harmless to the sleepwalker. If a sleepwalker doesn’t awaken in the middle of an episode, he or she could wake up at the end of a sleep cycle somewhat rested and refreshed. However, it’s actually recommended that you wake up a sleepwalker. This is because the longer it’s allowed to go on, a sleepwalking episode has the potential to escalate into increasingly weird and dangerous activities – like climbing a multi-story construction crane, driving long distances, and even having sex with strangers.
While these are somewhat unique cases, sleepwalkers everywhere can be prone to performing similarly dangerous activities. Just remember that waking up a sleepwalker has some risks, such as being violently attacked by the sleepwalker.
Thankfully, there is an alternative – sleepwalkers can be slowly but surely lead towards safer places and situations, like their own beds at home. This is easier if the person leading the sleepwalker knows them very well and might even have some idea of what to say or do to lead the sleepwalker to safety. T
hat same person can also be in charge of the sleepwalker’s car keys, effectively preventing any sleepwalking episode from turning into long, dangerous drives. You can also sleepwalk-proof your home by letting trusted friends or family members have control of your house locks and alarms.
Obviously, for this last drug-free sleepwalking treatment, you’re going to need the help of other people. Similar to more serious disorders, sleepwalking is best tackled with help from even just a handful of people that you can trust.
|Author:||Peter Mutuc is a freelance writer, licensed nurse, and sleep enthusiast from Los Angeles, California. After traveling through SE Asia to learn of his heritage, he joined a few of his colleagues at One Bed Mattress. He practices Zen meditation daily and prefers living a natural health lifestyle.|