It has been a long-known myth that waking up a sleepwalker can kill them. Is there any truth to this? If you know or even live with a sleepwalker, you know how difficult it can be for both of you. You never know where they will end up or what they will do while they’re in this state. There have been many accounts of people leaving their house, cooking a meal, and even doing illegal things. So, can you wake a sleepwalker? If so, is it safe? How will you do so?
What Is Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking can be simply described as a disorder that arises when the person is asleep and will “walk” or engage in activities as if one is awake. It’s more commonly found in children than it is in adults, but it is more likely to happen to somebody who is deprived of sleep. This condition usually has more to it than just sleepwalking. It is more like a series of behaviors that happen while the person is asleep. It can also be sitting up in bed and looking around or walking from room to room throughout the house. For severe cases, it’s walking outside wearing your pajamas and driving in long distance.
There are 1%-15% of people who suffer from this condition. Adult sleepwalking is common to some people and usually doesn’t come from any underlying psychiatric issues.
Common triggers can include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Febrile illnesses
- Certain medications
The symptoms of sleepwalking include:
- Little or no memory of what happened
- Talking in your sleep
- Hard to wake from the state
Screaming with night terrors
Little or no memory of what happened
Why Is It Dangerous To Wake A Sleepwalker?
While they can’t die from being awoken from sleepwalking, it will most likely startle them. It may cause distress, and they may become disoriented when they are suddenly awakened from that state. They may even become violent and will have confused reactions to their surroundings. However, there have been no documented cases of somebody dying from simply being awoken while sleepwalking. The disorder itself is the most hazardous thing for the person experiencing it because they have no idea what they’re doing. Fortunately, there are safe ways to help a person in this state of mind.
Help The Sleepwalker Back To Bed
This is the best thing that you can do for a sleepwalker. You need to safely help them return to their bedswhile trying not to touch them too much. You need to guide their way and make sure that they aren’t exposed to any harm. Turn them towards the direction of their room and walk alongside them until they reach the bed. If that doesn’t work, you can try to use loud noises to wake them up from a distance. This will most likely startle them enough for them to wake up but make sure you’re within reach in case they stumble. If you shake them, it might make them feel like they are being attacked and could harm you in their defense so don’t do it.
As said earlier, those who are awoken from sleepwalking tend to be confused, disoriented, and scared. You should always remember to be thoughtful of the person who is in this state of mind. When they wake up, they usually won’t remember what happened, so you have to tell them.
You may be interested in: Why Am I Waking Up at Night?
Unfortunately, there’s really no direct treatment for sleepwalking. Improving sleep hygiene may help eliminate the issue, but if you or somebody you know is experiencing the symptoms above, get them to see a doctor. This is important in order for you to grasp the reason why you’re having this problem in relation to the factors mentioned above and be able to discuss possible treatments in the process. Alternatively, one of the ways this can be treated is through hypnosis. There are several known cases in which patients have treated their symptoms successfully with this method. Also, there are some sedative-hypnotics or antidepressants that may be prescribed. In children, the condition usually solves by itself. If it continues through adolescence, see a doctor.
I wanted to touch on the subject a little bit, in case you were wondering how it works. A small-scale study done by researchers have shown that those who are properly screened may experience improvement with the use of hypnosis. It has encouraging results when it comes to nightmares and sleepwalking. Those who were treated with hypnotherapy had a 50% chance of improvement after 18 months and 67% after 5 years.The theory behind this treatment is that it allows you to focus on relaxation and steer clear of bad thoughts. Unlike what is portrayed in the movies, you are not unconscious in the process but somewhat in a trance-like state.
As you have realized by now, it’s not really dangerous for a sleepwalker to be awakened, but you have to be cautious. It’s more dangerous for those doing the walking since they’re not mentally aware of their action. Generally, sleepwalkers are harmless, but they can be a threat to themselves and others around them if they start leaving the house and driving cars which in turn exposes them to danger. Remember, if you know somebody that has those symptoms or have seen it happen, advise them to seek a doctor as soon as possible.