Medical specialists refer to sleepwalking as a sleep disorder, meaning that it is not ‘normal’ though it is relatively common and in some cases is not a serious problem. However, for some people sleepwalking, or somnambulism, can be incredibly dangerous and troublesome.
Sleepwalking is when sleepers move around during the slow wave, deep sleep phase, while they are in a state of low consciousness and perform actions that they would generally on do when fully awake. In other words, even though it is called sleepwalking, many people will do far more than just walk. In fact, in some of the more worrisome and problematic cases, people have been found cheating on spouses and even attacking others while ‘sleepwalking’. At the absolute extreme end there have even been murders committed by people who are sleepwalking.
Many specialists believe that sleepwalking is genetic while others think that it is acquired during childhood. They also argue over whether it represents automatism—the unconscious repetition of an action a person would normally do while awake—or whether it is constitutes behaviours someone would not do while awake. For those who have committed crimes whilst sleepwalking, this is a serious question, did they act out of character or where their actions show a conscious or subconscious intent?
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