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Why We Sleepwalk

Ever known someone to sleepwalk? Or maybe it’s even happened to you. Laci looks at why some people walk in their sleep, and puts to rest the question: is it safe to wake a sleepwalker?

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Woman drives 300km – in her sleep!

“A New Zealand woman drove hundreds of kilometres while asleep at the wheel, sending texts from her cellphone along the way.”


“Sleepwalking, formally known as somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while asleep.”

Desensitization of GABAergic receptors as a mechanism of zolpidem-induced somnambulism.

“Sleepwalking is a frequently reported side effect of zolpidem which is a short-acting hypnotic drug potentiating activity of GABA(A) receptors.”


“Sleep walking (or somnambulism) is an example of a parasomnia (a ‘near sleep’
condition). It is more common in childhood (affecting around 20% of
children, especially those aged 4-6) than adulthood (3-10%). It is also more
common in boys. In adulthood, however, it is equally common in men and
women. The main characteristic is walking around as if awake, and frequently
involves ‘ordinary’ behaviours like dressing or making food.”

Sleepwalking – What causes it?

“There have been stories reported of people driving a car and even killing others while sleepwalking. While most sleepwalking isn’t this intense, it is still an interesting sleep disorder to be aware of. The question that always comes to my mind is: What causes a person to sleepwalk?”

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