Sleepwalking: Causes, Symptoms, Dangers, and Treatments

Categories: NightmareSleepWalking

Sleepwalking is a phenomenon that has captured the attention of many, and it plays a central role in Scott Gardner's novel 'The Dead I Know,' where the main character, Aaron Rowe, grapples with this mysterious condition. This essay delves into the intriguing world of sleepwalking, shedding light on its underlying causes, the symptoms it manifests, the potential dangers it poses, and the available treatments. Additionally, personal experiences related to sleep disturbances will be shared to provide a comprehensive perspective on this intriguing topic.

Understanding the Causes of Sleepwalking

Why do people sleepwalk? This question has puzzled scientists, psychologists, and individuals alike. Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, can be attributed to a combination of genetic, physical, and medical factors. While genetics may play a role in some cases, it is typically the interplay of various factors that leads to sleepwalking episodes.

In 'The Dead I Know,' Aaron Rowe's experience with sleepwalking is closely intertwined with the stressors in his life, including a new job, caregiving responsibilities for his mother, and recurring, vivid dreams.

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Stress has been identified as one of the leading triggers of sleepwalking. Moreover, when individuals find themselves in a deep sleep state, often associated with vivid dreaming, they become more susceptible to sleepwalking episodes.

It is crucial to recognize that while genetics may predispose some individuals to sleepwalking, it is often the presence of stress or deep sleep patterns that act as catalysts for these episodes. Thus, understanding the various factors contributing to sleepwalking is essential in addressing and managing this condition.

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Exploring the Symptoms of Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking manifests through a range of symptoms, some of which can be potentially dangerous. These symptoms can vary from quiet, aimless walking within a room to more frantic movements, resembling attempts at escape. Unfortunately, there have been instances where individuals have fallen from windows while sleepwalking, underscoring the potential dangers associated with this condition.

Aaron's experience with sleepwalking in 'The Dead I Know' serves as a poignant example of the extremity of these episodes. He not only managed to find the key to unlock a door but also untied himself from his bed. Furthermore, sleepwalkers typically exhibit certain characteristics when observed. Their eyes are often open with a glassy, vacant stare. When questioned, they respond with slow and simplistic thoughts, often nonsensical in nature. This behavior can lead to misunderstandings, as seen when Westy mistook Aaron for being under the influence of drugs.

Recognizing these symptoms and understanding their potential dangers is essential for individuals who may be prone to sleepwalking or those who may encounter sleepwalkers. Awareness can help in preventing accidents and ensuring the safety of sleepwalkers.

Exploring Treatments and Management of Sleepwalking

While there is no specific cure for sleepwalking, there are effective strategies to manage and reduce the frequency of episodes. These strategies often focus on improving sleep hygiene, which refers to habits that promote restful and uninterrupted sleep.

One key aspect of sleep hygiene is maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate the body's internal clock, reducing the likelihood of sleep disturbances. Creating a comfortable sleeping environment is also crucial. This includes having a mattress that provides adequate support and a room temperature that is conducive to sleep.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that the sleeping environment is dark and quiet. In cases where external noise cannot be controlled, the use of earplugs can be beneficial. These measures can help improve sleep quality and reduce the chances of sleepwalking episodes.

For individuals like Aaron, who experience sleepwalking triggered by stress, addressing and managing stress is crucial. While his initial reaction was to take his mother to the hospital, which added to his stress, eventually, he found ways to cope and relax. Employing stress-reduction techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, or seeking professional help, can significantly alleviate the triggers for sleepwalking.

Personal Experiences with Sleep Disturbances

While I have not personally experienced sleepwalking, I have encountered another sleep-related phenomenon known as night terrors during my childhood. Night terrors are episodes where an individual awakens abruptly from sleep in a state of intense fear, confusion, and distress. They often manifest as a sudden awakening, but the person remains unresponsive and unable to communicate effectively.

My experience with night terrors occurred when I was around three years old, and they persisted for approximately a year before gradually ceasing. Similar to sleepwalking, individuals who experience night terrors typically do not remember the episode upon waking, adding an element of mystery to the phenomenon.

Night terrors and sleepwalking share similarities, as both can lead to confusion and distress for the individual experiencing them. It is essential to differentiate between night terrors and nightmares, as the former can result in an inability to fully awaken the person and may not involve a clear recollection of the episode.


Sleepwalking is a captivating and sometimes perplexing phenomenon that can impact individuals in various ways. By delving into the causes, symptoms, dangers, and treatments associated with sleepwalking, we gain a deeper understanding of this condition. Awareness of the potential triggers, such as stress, and the importance of sleep hygiene can help individuals manage and reduce the occurrence of sleepwalking episodes.

Personal experiences with sleep disturbances, such as night terrors, highlight the diverse nature of sleep-related phenomena and the need for empathy and understanding for those who may be affected by them. As we continue to explore the complexities of the human mind and sleep patterns, it is essential to approach these phenomena with curiosity, compassion, and a commitment to promoting overall well-being.

Updated: Nov 06, 2023
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Sleepwalking: Causes, Symptoms, Dangers, and Treatments. (2016, Apr 23). Retrieved from

Sleepwalking: Causes, Symptoms, Dangers, and Treatments essay
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