Let’s talk about what causes sleepwalking and talking? The tendency to sleep-walk, and talking runs in families. The rising from bed may be entirely silent and peaceful, without any preceding night-terror, though often, and especially in children, there may be a general appearance of unhappiness.
Once again, the parents of the sleep-walking child need not fear any serious psychological abnormality; but if the child is especially anxious about some problem in daytime life, such as school exams, then the sleep-walking can be better understood and it can be more easily accepted that in time both the problem and the sleep-walking will go away.
What causes sleepwalking and talking?
In the meantime, though, it may be wise to take special precautions to avoid sharp obstructions, electric cables, or easily opened windows.
Falling out of a window on a sleep-walk is in fact very unusual, but it is not uncommon for sleep-walkers to bruise themselves or draw blood by walking into things and perhaps bang their heads on sharp corners.
We know by measuring their brain waves that sleep-walkers really are half-asleep. Their powers of discrimination and efficient control of where they are walking are lower than during full wakefulness.
They will not remember their nocturnal excursions unless thoroughly awakened by other people, or by the cold when wandering outside the house.
Commonly an episode of sleep-walking involves the act of urination, not always directed into the conventional receptacle.
Apart from daytime anxiety, causes of more frequent sleep-walking include alcohol intake, and a whole variety of drugs that act upon the nervous system, or, even more potently, a combination of some drug (a pain-killer, for example) and alcohol.
One man who has been to our sleep laboratory, a lawyer, used to sleep-walk often when he had drunk too much vodka.
He told us that if they were away from home and staying in a hotel, he would so as not to be able to find it when sleep-walking, having earlier once found himself wandering away from the hotel in the middle of the night.
On another occasion, he caused considerable embarrassment by ending a sleep-walk in the bed of a then unoccupied room and alarming a lady guest who arrived at a subsequent hour.
Sleep-talking of a vigorous kind seems to run in the same families as those who sleep-walk; and often the sleep-walkers will sleep-talk on occasions.
It is a time for talking gibberish rather than for betraying closely kept secrets. Sleep-talking occurs at any time of night.
It need not give because for concern, though it may well elicit amusement from a bed-partner-and may cause the listener a few minutes lost sleep.
Most other causes of lost sleep are, unfortunately, less entertaining.
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