Sleepwalking: the causes

The causes of sleepwalking are most likely genetic. Subjects with this disorder have a family history of sleepwalking or night terrors in eighty percent of cases. In other words, it is much more common to encounter a case of sleepwalking in a family in which another member has had somnambulism episodes.

In addition, it is estimated that there are 10 to 20 percent sleepwalking individuals who themselves have a (first degree) parent who is sleepwalking.

Similarly, monozygotic twins (commonly referred to as "true twins") are more commonly affected both than dizygotic twins (or "false twins").

However, the exact mode of transmission is not yet known.

It should also be noted that there are more boys than girls affected by this disease.

Why do we sleep?

Sleep is a physiological phenomenon absolutely necessary for the body. But why do we need sleep? Explanations ...

But what is sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking is defined as awakening during sleep. In fact, it is the body of the sleepwalker (his muscles) that wakes up while the brain remains asleep. Sleepwalkers are unaware of these episodes.

This phenomenon occurs in the period of deep slow sleep.

Sleepwalking, like nocturnal terrors, is one of the so-called "parasomnias of deep slow sleep". The sleepwalker then wakes up several hours after falling asleep while the activity of his neurons is at its lowest. It is during this type of sleep that brain activity (especially electrical) slows down and the brain uses the least energy (lower glucose consumption). The cerebral blood flow also decreases in deep slow sleep.

The symptoms of sleepwalking are triggered during a specific sleep phase known as "no rapid eye movement (NREM)". This means that the episodes are expressed before paradoxical sleep. This is why the symptoms of sleepwalking occur at the beginning of the night.

It is also for this reason that other factors can influence the occurrence of episode of sleepwalking. This can trigger similar episodes:

  • fever,
  • substance abuse such as drugs or tranquillizers
  • alcohol abuse

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Read also :

> Sleep disorders
> These nightmares that disturb our sleep: how to get rid of it?
> Sleep apnea (video)

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