Sleep Talking and Sleep Walking (Somnabolism)

What are Parasomnias?

The Parasomnias are disorders that intrude into the sleep process and create disruptive sleep-related events. These behaviors and experiences occur usually while sleeping, and are most often infrequent and mild. They may happen often enough or become so bothersome that medical attention is required. Either way Parasomnias indicate a sleep disorder .

What Causes Arousal Disorders?

These disorders tend to run in families and are more common in children. Being over tired, having a fever or taking certain medications may make it worse. Because disorders of arousal are less common in adults, having an evaluation is important. In some cases, these disorders are triggered by other conditions, such as sleep apnea, heartburn, or periodic limb movement in sleep.

What is Sleepwalking (Somnambulism)?

Sleepwalking (Somnambulism) is a series of complex behaviors that are initiated during slow wave sleep and result in walking during sleep.

What are the symptoms of Sleepwalking (Somnambulism)?

Ambulation (walking or moving about) that occurs during sleep. The onset typically occurs in pre-pubertal children.

Associated features include:

  • Difficulty in arousing the patient during an episode
  • Amnesia following an episode
  • Episodes typically occur in the first third of the sleep episode
  • Polysomnographic monitoring demonstrates the onset of an episode during stage 3 or 4 sleep
  • Other medical and psychiatric disorders can be present but do not account for the symptom
  • The ambulation is not due to other sleep disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder or sleep terrors

How Common is Sleepwalking?

Medical reports show that about 18% of the population are prone to sleepwalking. It is more common in children than in adolescents and adults. Boys are more likely to sleepwalk than girls. The highest prevalence of sleepwalking was 16.7% at age 11 to 12 years of age. Sleepwalking can have a genetic tendency. If a child begins to sleepwalk at the age of 9, it often lasts into adulthood.

How serious is Sleepwalking?

For some, the episodes of sleepwalking occur less than once per month and do not result in harm to the patient or others. Others experience episodes more than once per month, but not nightly, and do not result in harm to the patient or others. In its most severe form, the episodes occur almost nightly or are associated with physical injury. The sleepwalker may feel embarrassment, shame, guilt, anxiety and confusion when they are told about their sleepwalking behavior.

It is very important that if the sleepwalker exits the house, or is having frequent episodes and injuries are occurring — Do NOT delay, it is time to seek professional help from a sleep disorders center in your area. There have been some tragedies with sleepwalkers, don’t let it happen to your loved one!

In a few instances, sleepwalking can result in violent behavior. It is very important that a chronic sleepwalker seek professional help and follow the suggestions listed below to prevent having any violent episodes.

What is sleep talking?

Sleep talking (somniloquy) is the utterance of speech or sounds during sleep without awareness of the event.

What are the symptoms?

  • Speech or utterances during sleep
  • Episodes are not associated with awareness of talking
  • Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows episodes of sleep talking that can occur in any stage of sleep
  • It can be associated with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders
  • It can be associated with medical disorders such as febrile illness (fever)
  • It can be associated with other sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, or REM sleep behavior disorder

Nocturnal Eating Syndrome (Sleep-Related Eating) is considered a parasomnia, and is a rare type of sleepwalking, a disorder of arousal. People with this disorder experience recurrent episodes of eating during sleep, without being aware of what they are doing. Sleep-related eating might occur often enough to result in significant weight gain. Although it can affect all ages and both sexes, it is more common in young women.

Dr. Tamez of Tejas Ear, Nose and Throat is very well versed in sleep and sleep disorders. He has a has a tremendous amount of experience in helping children and adults with Parasomnias. Make and appointment to see Dr. Tamez and to begin the process of improving your and your family’s quality of life and health.