Treating Somnambulism

Overview

After a thorough exam and sleep study, if needed, your doctor may recommend the appropriate treatment which may include:
  • Sedatives.
  • Appropriate safety precautions.
  • Specific therapies aimed at sleep disorders that may be causing sleepwalking.
If a person’s safety is at risk as a result of sleepwalking or other sleep related disorders, contact your doctor, or learn how the sleep experts at the UW Medicine Sleep Disorders Center at Harborview Medical Center can help.

Procedural Details

Your doctor may recommend safety interventions for mild cases of sleepwalking:
  • Removing electrical cords that the person may trip over.
  • Removing or covering sharp corners.
  • Installing gates in front of staircases.
  • Removing any other objects that might injure the person as he or she moves about.
The person with sleeping disorders may try some interventions at home. These interventions are collectively called sleep hygiene, which generally refers to sleeping habits. Changing sleep hygiene can help you manage sleeping disorders.

Methods of improving sleep hygiene can take one of three forms:
  1. Personal habits
    • Limit your use of stimulants, such as alcohol, caffeine or nicotine at bedtime.
    • Exercise daily, but avoid exercising just prior to bedtime.
    • Avoid eating large meals just before bedtime, as this may lead to heartburn or other discomforts.
    • Try to set up a routine by going to bed and waking up the same time every day, including on weekends.
    • Allow adequate time to sleep.
    • Avoid naps during the day.
    • Use your bedroom for restful activities. Avoid using the bedroom for stress-inducing activities, such as work, eating, watching TV or playing video games.
2. Sleeping Environment:  Create a restful environment, such as darkening the room by using heavy curtains or reducing distracting noises by using a fan.
3. Medical Considerations: 
Talk with your doctor to rule out serious illness that may be the underlying cause of the sleep-related problems.