Sleepwalking Brochure: The Lowdown....

An Outreach Project by Ebony Mia Smallman | Return To Outreach Projects 2010

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Sleepwalking Brochure, page 1 Sleepwalking Brochure, page 2

Fun Facts:

Sleepwalking was first used as a defence in a murder case in 1846, where the jury found the man not guilty!

Sleepwalking lasts as little as 30 seconds or as long as 30 minutes

Sleepwalking has been described in medical literature dating before Hippocrates (460 BC-370 BC)

Sleepwalking: aka Somnambulism

Definition: when a person appears to be awake and moving around with open eyes, but is actually asleep.

Fact: Sleepwalkers have no memory of their actions

When: Occurs early on in the night during deep non-REM sleep, usually stage 3 or 4.

Who does it affect: Sleepwalking is most common in children ages 4-6, usually disappears in adolescence. It appears to run in families.

Sleepwalking can be dangerous because people are unaware of their actions and can injure themselves.

Factors that Contribute


i)sleepwalking occurs more often in identical twins

ii)sleepwalking is 10 times more likely to occur if a first-degree relative has the disorder


i)sleep deprivation

ii)chaotic sleep schedule



vi)magnesium deficiency



i)length and depth of slow-wave sleep (greater in younger children)

ii)conditions such as pregnancy or menstruation


  • Eyes are usually open, but ams are not extended (a common stereotype depicted in movies/pictures etc).
  • Suffers are often clumsy or dazed in their actions.
  • Responses are slow and lacking in coherence. If the person goes back to sleep without waking up, they are unlikely to remember the event in the morning.
  • Treatment at Home

    get adequate sleep

    meditate or do relaxation exercises

    keep a safe sleeping environment, removing any dangerous articles from close proximity

    avoid any kind of stimuli before bed

    sleep in a bed on the ground floor to avoid a fall and avoid bunk beds!

    lock the doors/windows

    put an alarm on the bedroom door

    Medical Help

    -Benzodiazephines or tricyclic antidepressants have proven useful.

    -Medications are often stopped after 3-5 weeks without a reoccurance. Be sure to remember that symptoms may increase slightly just after the discontinuation!

    Other therapies:

    -Behavioral therapists or hypnotists can help with relaxation techniques and mental imagery

    -Anticipatory awakening: wake the person approximately 20 minutes before their usual sleepwalking time and keep them awake throughout the time during which the episode normally happens

    Sleepwalking, night terrors and confusional arousals are related, common Non-REM disorders tend to overlap with some symptoms so make sure you consult a professional to find out exactly which one you may have.

    Other conditions that often accompany sleepwalking are:

    -Sleep apnea (short periods when breathing stops during sleep)

    - bedwetting

    - night terrors


    1) limit stress

    2) avoid alcohol intake

    3) avoid sleep deprivation

    For more information or if you have any further concerns please contact one of the following:

    American Sleep Disorders Association
    1 Westbrook Corporate Center
    Suite 920
    Westchester, IL, 60154
    (708) 492-0930

    National Sleep Foundation
    1522 K Street, NW
    Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005
    (202) 347-3471

    American Sleep Association
    110 W. 9th Street Suite 826
    Wilmington DE 19801

    Where to go from here:

    Return To All Outreach Projects 2010

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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.

    In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

    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

    More Sleep Resources

    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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