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Why Do People Sleepwalk?

Why Do People Sleepwalk?

Here's a funny story: When I was a kid, I used to pretend I was sleepwalking. Why? Because when you're a kid you try to do anything to make yourself seem different. I thought that if I sleepwalked at night, everyone would think I was cool and interesting. The kids at school would want to hear my sleepwalking stories. I tried it, and on my first attempt, my mom told me to stop being ridiculous and go back to bed, but I do know multiple people who sleepwalk.  

So, what causes people to sleepwalk?  

Let's first discuss what exactly sleepwalking is. Sleepwalking is considered a sleep disorder. When you are sleeping, your body is in an in-between state. While half asleep and awake, which is considered a parasomnia episode, a person is sleepwalking (typically) during the 3rd stage of the sleep cycle. A sleepwalking episode can last anywhere from a few seconds all the way to a half-hour and a person can experience many different activities such as running, getting dressed, and even moving furniture. It can be hard to track how often or common it is for someone to sleepwalk since one of the main side effects is that they do not remember their episode once they wake up. 

There are a variety of distinct factors that can cause sleepwalking. A family history of sleepwalking can be present. About 47% of children with 1 parent who sleepwalks will as well and 61% of children will sleepwalk if both their parents do. Other causes can be sleep deprivation, alcohol before bed, restless leg syndrome, and stress.  

We suggest if you are, or live with, someone who does sleepwalk to take some precautions around your home as well as talk to your doctor about treatment options. Installing motion-sensing lights and even a motion-sensing alarm by your bed or door could be good steps for safety. Finally, if you come across someone who is sleepwalking, gently guiding them back to their bed is typically the best option for both your and their safety.



  Sarah is the resident fall marketing intern at Sven & Son. When she isn’t becoming a master of all things sleep-related, she enjoys staying active and traveling. Sarah one day hopes to visit every place on her bucket list, which is a VERY long list! 



Suni, E. (2022, March 11). Sleepwalking: What is somnambulism? Sleep Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from