Imagine going to sleep and waking up in a different place. Dr. Jose Colon, a sleep medicine physician with Lee Health, says it’s a common problem for patients who sleepwalk. “In our deepest stages of sleep, our brain waves are really slow. But just because our brain is slow doesn’t mean that we can’t have thoughts.”
Those thoughts can lead to actions while you sleep. “You may think of something and say it, sleep talking. You may think of a place, and you may walk there, sleepwalking. People may think of food and go into their kitchen, sleep eating disorder,” said Dr. Colon.
While sleepwalking is more common in children, doctors say it can happen in adults during the deepest stages of sleep. “Someone typically doesn’t know they are sleepwalking. They have no recollection of it. Someone is reporting it,” said Dr. Colon.
While sleepwalking and sleep talking happens sporadically, doctors say some things can trigger the reactions like stress, physical activity or sleep deprivation. “First line of therapy is keeping them safe. So we put locks on doors and make sure they don’t get out of the house,” said Dr. Colon.
Doctors also caution against trying to wake the patient. “That can be pretty problematic because they are in a deep sleep. They aren’t going to be very coherent. They may try to defend themselves. They yell, or they may hit,” said Dr. Colon.
He suggests leading to use the bathroom, which can help wake them up safely, before guiding them back to their room. “You let them walk or talk through it. We try not to wake them up unless we see that there is some harm,” said Dr. Colon.
Patients who have regular episodes may benefit from a sleep study and treatment like hypnosis.
View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/
Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.