Sleep walking is often associated with children, who wander through a quiet house and leave a trail of disturbed sleepers in their wake. The occurrence almost produces an unearthly state, as the body moves without conscious input, while the mind straddles wakefulness and sleep.
Sleep walking is not confined by strides; it also includes other mild behaviours such as sitting up, talking and fidgeting, which are all classed as branches of the sleepwalking trunk. A sleepwalker is unlikely to remember their actions, as they disappear into the darkness of night.
For many, sleepwalking is a phase grounded in childhood, for others it may linger into adulthood, signalling periods of stress, illness or fatigue. Sleepwalking often occurs when we are in slow wave sleep.
Children tend to sleepwalk within an hour or two of falling asleep, which means that they may walk around anywhere from a few seconds to half an hour. Sleepwalking may be hereditary but other causes may be a lack of sleep, irregular sleep schedules or fever. Stress can also be a trigger for sleepwalking, as it seems to manifest in an almost overdrive of the body and mind. The almost spooky and sometimes disturbing aspects associated with seeing a sleepwalker may stem from its negative cause, as it showcases an outward anxiety. Sleepwalkers are notoriously hard to wake, as they remain tightly in the grip of sleep’s dominant influence. Sleepwalking is often accompanied by sleep talking, which can reveal the origins of stress through telling snippets of information mumbled into the air.
Sleepwalking may also be accompanied by other conditions such as sleep apnea, bed wetting and night terrors, which makes the occurrence an assortment of traumatic displays. Because our brains are complex machines that process volumes of continuous information, including an auto pilot that operates bodily functions such as breathing and a beating heart, it is not surprising that glitches arise, as we become overloaded with information. However, sleepwalking is not actually dangerous in itself but in terms of where it takes the sleeper, as windows and doors can be opened onto the street and cars driven when under the influence of sleep. The dosed state of a sleep walker means that rationality is ultimately switched off.
Ways in which sleepwalking can be counteracted include listening to relaxing music before bed, establishing a regular sleep pattern and in doing so a restful routine, and avoiding caffeine before bedtime; all are top tips for grasping sound sleep that does not disturb the body’s repose. The sleep environment is one of the key ways, in which you can make sure that the bedroom is preserved as a serene sanctuary, compatible with a static resting space. By minimising the noise that enters the space, external influences can not contaminate the enveloping peace of a bedroom. The mattress and covers are also a sure fire way of forming a night’s sleep that guards against the unconscious desire to leave the bed.
Sleepwalking is a mere page in a catalogue of sleep’s varied content. By taking steps to tame the inner sleepwalker, a night of undisturbed recline can be reclaimed.
On the land and waters that we sleep, we walk, and we live, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of these lands. We pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their connection to the land.
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