There are times when getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult, but when sleep disturbances become habitual the result can be detrimental to your mind, body and soul. Restless sleep can be attributed to behaviors such as sleepwalking, sleep talking and the all too common
bed dance known as tossing and turning. These disturbances can be a result of numerous factors that can include health issues, stress, substance abuse, genetics and more, and generally occur due to a failure of the brain to fully paralyze the body while asleep. Often times, the person exhibiting these behaviors has no idea that he/she is engaging in them and the next day they usually have no recollection of their actions. The term sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is rather vague in terms of the activities that fall under this title. Sleepwalking can include wandering indoors and out, urinating in strange places, calling people, eating, working around the house and other undertakings that can seem strange in the middle of the night. When a person is involved in these activities they may have their eyes open, but their stare will be blank and non-attentive. In addition, sleepwalking occurs most commonly in children and young adults and it befalls more often in men than women. There are many causes for engrossing in this type of behavior while asleep. It can begin with genetics, that is to say, if there is a family history of somnambulism, it is more than likely that children will develop these behaviors at some point. Stress can also play a huge role in the onset of these behaviors. There are also a number of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can cause such symptoms. For instance, stimulants, allergy medications and sedatives can all have an effect on your sleep behaviors. Alcohol, fevers and a lack of sleep can also be a source for the inception of these activities. Moreover, sleep talking is another behavior that arises while a person is sleeping and is not readily recalled by the person when they are awake. Sleep talking can fall under other categories, such as sleep terrors, where the person exhibits uncontrolled limb movement along with loud yelps and screams. Another frightening category is REM sleep behavior disorder or RBD; this is when the person plays an active role in their dreams. More specifically, they often bring their dreams to life through movement and sound, and can sometimes results in violent and dangerous physical attacks. Sleep talking, RBD and sleep terrors can be brought on by many of the same triggers as sleepwalking. For instance, stress, medications and substance abuse can play a leading role in the arrival of
these actions. Serious cases can be a symptom of a neurological disorder. Furthermore, tossing and turning is another ordeal that can be harmful to a good night’s rest. Similar to sleepwalking and sleep talking, tossing and turning can be brought on by stress. In addition, a poor night’s rest can add to stress and pour into the next night of sleep causing a downward spiral to your sleep health. Often times, we think that tossing and turning is caused by being physically uncomfortable, however if your mind is not relaxed it does not matter how comfortable you are in bed. In other words, by alleviating your mind of all of its stresses it will allow your body to follow suit. In all, sleeping well at night can be eased by a commitment to improving overall health and sleep hygiene. That is to say, by incorporating a nutritious diet and a regular exercise routine into your life can mean a world of difference in obtaining a beneficial sleeping pattern. Moreover, there are a number of natural and simple measures that can be taken to overcome the difficult sleep patterns mentioned above. More specifically, avoiding stimuli such as caffeine and alcohol at least six hours prior to bedtime can reduce sleep conflict. Also, creating a regular sleep schedule that includes seven or more hours can help with avoiding nighttime turmoil. What’s more, finding a comfortable mattress, spending time enjoying life with friends and family, drinking plenty of water, relaxing in a warm bath before bed and/or surrounding yourself in peaceful scents such as lavender and vanilla at bedtime, avoiding computer use a few hours before laying down and keeping your bedroom dark can be simple steps to reducing nighttime discomfort and unwanted behaviors. Overall, utilizing the steps mentioned above can be the difference between surviving day to day or enjoying life by living each day to its fullest by sleeping peacefully at night. Serious and chronic cases of sleep walking, talking and restless sleep such as REM Behavior Disorder should consult a sleep specialist for additional treatment options. Melatonin is an over the counter supplement that has been shown to aid in normal, restful sleep, while sleep specialists have various pharmacological options that can help return neurological sleep patterns back to normal.