There is no single cause of sleep walking, rather, many factors can bring on a sleepwalking episode. Some of these are:
Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings
Some medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien)
Sleepwalking is also sometimes associated with underlying conditions that affect sleep, such as:
Seizure disordersSleep-disordered breathing — a group of disorders characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep, the most common of which is sleep apnea
Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
Head injuries or brain swelling
In other cases, use of alcohol, illicit drugs or certain medications — including some antibiotics, antihistamines, sedatives and sleeping pills — can trigger sleepwalking episodes.
Causes are often related to sleep deprevation, fatique, and anxiety — in other words, poor sleep quality — when somnambulism occurs in children. In adults, it is often caused by mental disorders ir a reaction to a drug.
A common misconception is not to awaken a sleepwalker. It is in fact best that you do since injuries could occur, although they may be confused or disoriented upon awakening.
Sleepwalking generally occurs in children but can continue into adulthood. It happens in the deep stages of sleep.
Sleepwalking can be passed down through families, can be cause by poor sleep quality (as langg said), and can be caused by medical conditions including nighttime seizures, PTSD, sleep apnea, or heart arrhythmias.
Voluntary muscle movements are suppressed during sleep, but there are some cases when the causes for this inhibition do not function correctly. Sleep is very complicated, it involves neuron inhibitors, hormones, and brain function to all work together. A Nova episode about Dreams featured scientists that “turned off” the part of the brain that controls this paralysis in a cat, who having entered the REM state, seemed to be acting out a dream. There is also a hilarious video on YouTube of a dog who seems to not to have all the parts working correctly and has terrible sleep-walking problems, watch for a laugh here.
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