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Sleepwalking - Diagnosis & Treatment


Diagnosis

 
Sleepwalking in children is fairly normal. It does not usually need medical treatment. Parents should simply keep a close watch on their child. An adult who continues or begins to sleepwalk is at a greater risk of injury. In this case, it would be a good idea to seek the advice of a board certified sleep medicine physician.

A sleep specialist will often ask you to complete a sleep diary for two weeks. This will give the doctor clues as to what might be causing your problems. You can also rate your sleep with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This will help show how your sleep is affecting your daily life. The doctor will need to know your complete medical history. Be sure to inform him or her of any past or present drug and medication use. Also tell the doctor if you have ever had any other sleep disorder. 

A sleep medicine physician will try to determine if there is something else that is causing your sleepwalking or making the symptoms worse, such as:
  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use 
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse
The sleep medicine physician may want to examine your sleep using an in-lab sleep study.  Also known as a polysomnogram, a sleep study charts your brain waves, heart beat, and breathing as you sleep. It also looks at how your arms and legs move and records your behavior during sleep on video. This will help show if you get out of bed and do anything unusual during your sleep study.

Treatment

 
For children, sleepwalking tends to go away on its own as they enter the teen years.

Sleepwalking can occur when sleep is fragmented by other sleeping problems. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common medical problem that can lead to frequent arousals from sleep. This may increase the risk of parasomnias such as sleepwalking. Symptoms of OSA include snoring, waking up gasping for air, and daytime sleepiness. Treatment of OSA may improve sleepwalking.