There’s spaghetti in the bathroom sink, the laptop’s in the laundry basket, and please tell me that is not urine dripping down the refrigerator door.
Either a group of college kids took over the house for the night or there’s a sleepwalker on the loose. Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is a disorder that happens when people do some activity besides snoozing while they’re still asleep. There are lots of potential causes of sleepwalking, from depression to overdoing it on the booze. But sleepwalking isn’t always disastrous, and sleep specialists have devised some different techniques to keep nighttime wandering to a minimum.
Sleepwalk This Way — Why It Matters
Sleepwalking is a kind of parasomnia, the fancy term for abnormal sleep behavior. A recent study estimates that about 30 percent of American adults have sleepwalked at least once in their life, and about four percent have sleepwalked once or more in the past year. Besides snoozing and strolling, other telltale signs of sleepwalking include opening the eyes without seeming awake and saying nonsensical things. (Sleeptalking, anyone?) And while sleepwalkers usually do unremarkable things like fiddle with the covers, others have been known to drive a car, go Julia Child in the kitchen, or even have sex! Most sleepwalking episodes last about 10 minutes or less. But whether they mumble about fairies or drive across the country and back, sleepwalkers generally don’t remember anything about the episode once they wake up.
While most sleepwalkers are kids, adults can definitely take 2 a.m. strolls around the house, too. This latest study on sleepwalking found Americans are more likely to sleepwalk today than they were in the 1970s. That’s possibly because more Americans take antidepressants now than 30 years ago, and certain medications can make people more likely to sleepwalk. (It’s also worth noting that people who suffer from major depressive disorder are more likely to sleepwalk in the first place.)