Is there a link between Sleepwalking, Sleep Talking and Mental Health?


An empty bed in a dark bedroom with the lids peeledSleepwalking and sleeping are part of a group of behaviors called parasomnias – unusual or harmful behaviors that occur during sleep. Talking to sleep is one of the most common stays. A 2010 study found that 68.8% of people talk during their sleep sometime during their lifetime. According to the same study, 22.4% of people suffered sleepwalking at least once.

Both sleepwalking and sleeping can happen for many reasons. Sometimes they are symptoms of a mental health condition and both can cause mental discomfort and affect relationships, work and even total life satisfaction.

What Causes Sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking, sometimes known as sleepiness, occurs in deep sleep when a person is very difficult to wake up. Normally, when a person is asleep, the body paralyzes skeletal muscles – the muscles responsible for walking and other complex behaviors. GABA, a neurotransmitter, is one of the main chemicals involved in the prevention of sleepwalking. When GABA does not work to paralyze skeletal muscles, a person can walk, eat or even attempt to drive during sleep.

Sleepwalking is more common in children. Some research shows that this may be due to the fact that GABA-releasing neurons are still developing in children. Sleepwalking in children tends to be between 8 and 12 years old. Children suffering from sleepwalking may also have a condition called confusion, which happens when a person appears to be awake but confused or ignorant.

Though it's hard to wake up a sleepwalker, it's a myth that it's so dangerous. However, a person who has woken up an episode of sleepwalking can be confused or worried.

What causes sleep?

Sleep that spoke, called somniloquy, is more common in children than adults. It usually occurs during fast eye movement (REM) sleep. Adults are more likely to talk to their sleep if they are depressed, experiencing a nightmare or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Walk or talk to your sleep Sleep disorder?

The sleeping and sleeping we are talking about are considered to be two sleep disorders. It is more common in people with other sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia or sleeping problems. Both sleepwalking and sleeping speech tend to run into families.

Sleep and sleep talk more often to boys than to girls, although researchers do not know why. Both tend to fall or disappear until the age of 12, but when they do not, a person can be diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

Sleep behaviors, which cause people to do unusual things when they sleep, are closely related to sleepwalking. For example, an individual can drive his car or try to have sex with his partner while he is asleep. Rarely, people are still violent in their sleep. A handful of rape perpetrators successfully used a defense of "sexuosomia", arguing that they did not intend to rape someone and instead had sleepwalking. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes sex as a mental health diagnosis.

Treatment can help with sleepwalking or sleeping talking when these issues are due to a state of mental health or anxiety.

Mental Health Issues Associated with Sleepwalking and Sleep Talking

Some mental health issues can cause sleepwalking and sleeping. When sleep issues are related to a mental health problem, seeking treatment for the underlying mental health condition is usually the quickest way to resolve the sleep problem.

Any mental health condition can affect sleep and lead to unusual behavior at night. Sleep problems are particularly prevalent in people who have:

Drugs and alcohol can cause some people to talk or sleep. Because of this, people with substance abuse problems, as well as those who go through drug or alcohol withdrawal, may suffer from sleepwalking or sleeping.

Medical issues associated with sleeping and sleeping

Some medical issues are associated with sleepwalking and sleeping. These include:

  • Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes frequent night-time suffocation due to breathing problems.
  • Breathing disorders such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
  • Cardiovascular health problems, such as cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Infections and diseases, especially when they cause high fever.
  • Brain health issues such as tumors or brain injury. This is a rare cause of sleep problems, but sudden or severe sleep problems are more likely to occur.

Certain medicines have also been linked to sleepwalking and sleeping. Some sleeping medicines, such as Ambien and Lunesta, can cause unusual night-time behavior. Sleep consumption is one of the most common behaviors associated with medication, but driving and other unusual behaviors have also been reported.

Treatment can help with sleepwalking or sleeping talking when these issues are due to a state of mental health or anxiety. Many people also find that healing helps them cope with the challenges of staying, such as sleep deprivation or conflicts with a sleeping companion. The right therapist can help you create a healthy sleeping environment, set healthy sleep goals and get better sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, treatment can help with many sleep problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be particularly effective.

Sleep problems can affect an entire family. When a child is nostalgic, parents can fight to have a good night's sleep and the siblings feel uncomfortable. A spouse who has sleepwalking or sleeping conversations can cause sleep problems for their partner. Night sleeping problems, such as sexual eating or eating at night, can even be a source of marriage or relationship problems. Family or couples can help families manage and understand these issues.

Bibliographical references:

  1. Bjorvatn, B., Grønli, J., & Pallesen, S. (2010). There are several disagreements in the general population. Sleep Medicine, 10(11), 1031-1034. doi: 10.1016 / j.sleep.2010.07.011
  2. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-insomnia
  3. Mohebbi, A., Holoyda, B. J. & Newman, W. J. (2018). Sexsomnia as a defense against recurrent sexual offenses. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 46(1), 78-85. Retrieved from http://jaapl.org/content/46/1/78.long
  4. Oliviero, A. (2008, February 1). Why do some people sleepwalk? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-some-people-sleepwalk
  5. Pediatric stays. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.childrens.com/specialties-services/specialty-centers-and-programs/sleep/programs-and-services/sleep-medicine/nightmares-sleepwalking-sleep-talking-sleep-terror
  6. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep. (n.d.). National sleeping institution. Retrieved from https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.pdf
  7. Sexsomnia: A new diagnosis of DSM-5. (2014, October 28). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/sleep-wake-disorders/sexsomnia-a-new-dsm-5-diagnosis/article/379644
  8. Speaking in Sleep: Causes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-talking/causes
  9. Sleep talking: What is it? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleep.org/articles/sleep-talking
  10. Sleepwalking. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/sleepwalking




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