Sleepwalking Brochure

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If you believe you or someone else close to you has somnambulism, most likely the episodes will disappear with time and no treatment will be necessary. However if the person has episodes so frequent that they negatively affect the person's life, injure themselves or others during an episode, or are at all violent while asleep, you should consult a sleep specialist. There are also some precautions you can take yourself if you or someone you are close to is a sleepwalker:

  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep
  • Put an alarm or bell on doors to alert others if the sleepwalker is trying to leave the house
  • Lock the doors and windows.
  • The sleepwalker's room should be on the ground floor to avoid falling.
  • Keep sleeping area free of sharp or harmful objects
  • Avoid audio or visual stimulants around bedtime
  • Mediate before bedtime to relax.
  • If you have tried all the precautions and the sleep walking episodes are still problematic, you should go to a sleep specialist. The doctor may temporarily prescribe medicine such as estazolam or Clonazepam. Other therapy is sometimes used such as relaxation techniques or mental imagery stimulation. In order to prevent an increase in episodes, avoid sleep deprivation and excessive alcohol intake and limit stress.

    For those who think they have they have somnambulism or know someone else who may be suffering from the disorder contact the American Sleep Disorders Association: Phone: (708) 492-0930

    1 Westbrook Corporate Center
    Suite 920
    Westchester, IL, 60154


    Sleepwalking is one of the most common and well known of all the parasomnias. The scientific name for the disorder is somnambulism. It has been around for centuries, but has only been seriously researched and diagnosed in the past century. Simply sleepwalking behavior is described as accomplishing complex behaviors during sleep.

    This disorder is most prevalent in young adolescence and middle childhood. It affects about 15% of people between ages four through twelve. The problem is usually resolved by late adolescents, but 10% of all sleepwalkers begin having episodes while they are teenagers.

    Sleepwalking most commonly occurs not long after the onset of sleep during stage three and four of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Usually after the sleepwalker is awoken, they have no memory of the actions they carried out while asleep.

    Causes, Symptoms

    Some scientists have hypothesized that the length and depth of slow wave sleep may correlate with the frequency of sleepwalking. This goes off the idea that younger children are more frequent sleepwalker and are also known to have longer and deeper slow wave sleep. Menstruation and pregnancy have also been known to increase the frequency of sleepwalking episodes in sleepwalkers.

    Taking certain drugs such as sedatives, narcoleptics, tranquilizers, antihistamines, and stimulants can potentially cause sleepwalking in some people. Other common problems such as sleep deprivation unusually sleep schedules, alcohol intoxication, fever, or even stress can trigger sleepwalking. There is also a genetic factor involved in the causation of sleepwalking. A person is ten times more likely to be diagnosed with somnambulism if a first-degree relative also has the condition.

    Sleepwalkers do not walk around with their eyes closed with their hands held out in front of them as in shown in many movies. Instead, the sleepwalker usually has open, but glassy eyes and roams around their room or house. If they respond to any questions, their answers are usually simple thoughts are complete nonsense. They are sometimes dazed or clumsy when completing tasks.

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    About This Site

    Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

    We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

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    The Stanford Sleep Book

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    Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

    In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

    Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

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    The Zeo

    A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

    Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

    Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

    Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

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