JUN 29, 2016 12:35 PM PDT

Why Do People Sleepwalk?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

For most, sleep is when our bodies rest and recover. At most, we toss and turn. For some, however, they get out of bed and walk around, even though they're still sleeping. In rare cases, they may even drive a car or cook a meal.

About 30 percent of adults in the U.S. have reported a history of sleepwalking. The cause of sleepwalking, also called somnambulism, is unknown. It most frequently occurs in children, regardless of gender. The rate of children who sleepwalk is as high as 17 percent. It can occur as soon as the child can walk, and usually peaks by the time the child is eight to 12 years old.

We also know sleepwalking happens during the deepest stages of sleep. The deepest stages of sleep are stages 3 and 4. Your brainwaves are the slowest during this time. Most dreams occur in REM when the brain is much more active. Your muscles are temporarily paralyzed during this time so you don't act out your dreams. Thus, most sleepwalking occurs in other stages since you can't walk if your muscles are paralyzed.

It's very difficult to wake up someone while they're sleepwalking because they're in such a deep stage of sleep. If you do wake them up, they're going to be incredibly confused as to why they're out of bed. Thus, while it's not dangerous to wake a person up, be prepared to have an explanation.

sources: Life Noggin, LiveScience
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
You May Also Like
OCT 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
OCT 22, 2020
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
Nuclear fusion is the frontier of energy research, and NASA has a plan to bring this state-of-the-art power source to th ...
NOV 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
NOV 06, 2020
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
Located inside the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Z Pulsed Power Facility (or Z Machine) i ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
JAN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
New Findings Suggest Dark Matter Doesn't Exist
JAN 08, 2021
New Findings Suggest Dark Matter Doesn't Exist
The existence of dark matter has been considered a 'given' for decades as a way to understand some of the less e ...
MAR 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Find Tectonic Activity on Exoplanet
MAR 06, 2021
Astronomers Find Tectonic Activity on Exoplanet
For the first time, researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland have found evidence of tectonic activity on a ...
Loading Comments...