Why Do We Sleepwalk: From Sachin to Chef Who Cooked in His Sleep

Why Do We Sleepwalk: From Sachin to Chef Who Cooked in His Sleep


What’s common between Sachin Tendulkar, Waheeda Rehman in a 1968 movie
and my friend who shot this video? They’re all sleepwalkers.

I wonder why we sleepwalk.

(GIF Courtesy: GIPHY)

Also Read : Why Do We Deja Vu: The Most Confusing Feeling In the World


Did you know that people sleepwalk with their eyes open?

Eating, driving, walking out of their windows – these are the least crazy things people have done while sleepwalking.

There’s a chef who used to cook spaghetti and omelettes in his sleep. And there’s been at least one person who got away with murder by claiming he was sleepwalking.

So what’s going on with sleepwalkers?

Dr Manjari Tripathi, Neurologist, AIIMS Delhi explains:

Sleepwalking is essentially a breach.This happens because there’s an imbalance between the chemicals which put us to sleep, like GABA, versus those chemicals which are there in our brain in the awake state.

Basically, these chemicals act like a brake in your brain to give your body some rest. So, when the brake fails, you end up moving around even when you’re asleep.

When Does Sleepwalking Happen?

Sleepwalking happens in the stage 3 and 4 of sleep which is deep sleep or NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

Wait, so are sleepwalkers just acting out their dreams?

Not really. We dream during REM sleep or Rapid Eye Movement sleep. But that’s different from walking in your sleep or talking in your sleep, explains Dr Tripathi.

People don’t remember sleepwalking because the NREM stages of sleep are not associated to the memory parts of the brain.

Should yo wake up the sleepwalker or let them be?

“If you wake up the sleepwalker with a sudden motion, it may disorient them. So best is to just walk them back to bed so that they don’t end up doing harmful activities,” Dr Tripathi says.

Who Are the People Who Sleepwalk?

Sleepwalking is mostly common in kids. Scientists say that it’s possibly because the body hasn’t matured enough to produce the proper amount of the chemical GABA which stops our movements in sleep.

Sleepwalking in adults is mostly linked to other problems like sleep deprivation, stress, alcoholism, or psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Sleepwalking is also genetic.

Are There Any Sleepwalking Treatments?

A good sleep hygiene, maintaining 8 hours of sleep, and sleeping on time is essential to prevent sleepwalking.

Apart from that avoidance of alcohol, smoking and caffeine is also essential. But if sleepwalking becomes excessive, you must go to see a sleep specialist or neurologist.
Dr Manjari Tripathi, Neurologist, AIIMS

Comment with the most fun sleepwalking story you’ve heard. And tell us what you want the next episode of ‘I Wonder Why’ to discuss.

Video Editing and Graphics: Kunal Mehra
Cameraperson: Athar Rather and Abhishek Ranjan
Camera Assistants: Mayank Chawla and Sravya M G

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