Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a parasomnia that affects about 20% of children and 3% of adults, and has been found to run in families which suggests a genetic component. During an episode the person is unconscious and has no recollection of the events during sleep walking, but can carry out relatively complicated tasks such as making a cup of tea. In very severe cases sleepwalking can be extremely dangerous due to a risk of injury. It occurs during NREM/SWS sleep and has been related to night terrors which are also most common in children and only found in NREM sleep.
Sleep walking is a disorder of arousal that is likely to be genetic. EEG recordings on sleep walkers have shown a mixture of delta waves, typical of SWS, and beta waves, which are characteristics of an awake state. This would suggest that sleep walking occurs when the person is awake but the arousal of the brain is incomplete.
Various factors in the individuals’ life appear to increase the likelihood of sleep walking, for example sleep deprivation, alcohol, having a fever, stress, hormone changes during puberty, menstruation or psychiatric conditions (Plazzi et al. 2005).
One possibility is that children have more SWS…