A couple of years ago (when still known as Maldon Hypnotherapy Clinic) I was interviewed by the well known High Street company Dreams as part of an article in their Sleep Science Sleep Matters Club series regarding all the things we get up to when we're asleep. The full article is here but also below is the interview transcript. As you can see it ain't just walking around the house that we get up to when we're kipping!
Q In your experience, how serious a condition can sleep walking become?
A Sleep walking or somnambulism can effect people of all ages and backgrounds in many different ways. People can get themselves into potentially very dangerous positions regarding falling, tripping, standing on objects, or walking into roads unaware of their surroundings. Partners and house sharers can suffer too as some forms of sleep walking can disturb bed sharers nightly but also these poor partners can end up being victims of night time aggression from the sleep walker acting out their dreams and may shout or strike out. There have even been cases of suffocation of a partner by a sleep walkers - they actually killed their beloved wife without even waking up! On other levels sleep walking can lead to other problems such as sleep eating, where the person without being consciously aware of what they’re doing gets up and make themselves snacks to feast on.
Q How effective is hypnotherapy in the treatment of sleep disorders such as sleep walking?
A Hypnotherapy can be an extremely powerful tool for dealing with sleep walking. Often the person is physically expressing their mental restlessness by sleep walking. Commonly the more stressed they are the more they sleep walk. It’s best therefore to treat the person’s life stresses such as worries and fears leading to a calmer more relaxed person that then sleep walks less and less.
Also as a sleep walkers’ mind is not moving through the natural brain activity states or phases of sleep (no matter if it’s just walking into the next room every night, or trying to start the car to drive - yes that happens!) it’s essential to train the mind to drop down the gears into a deep refreshing healthy sleep. Regular hypnotherapy and self hypnosis are the best tools I know to do this.
Q Do you have any general examples of helping someone out with this condition?
A One of my clients was a sleep walking night eater. Ironically she was a very fit gym going mum with an active nannying job who really watched super carefully what she ate and tried to keep herself trim by day. However, every night she would sleep walk into the kitchen and pull out all the fatty, sugary snacks she normally avoided and messily pig out! Her partner couldn’t stop her as she’d get aggressive towards him so he would leave her to it. She would go downstairs each morning dreading the sight of the debris of her night munching. Needless to say she had a weight gaining problem despite being one of the rare people who really does do all the correct lifestyle things by day. Using hypnotherapy we worked on resolving anxieties that were driving this comfort seeking sleep walking. We also gave her tools to manage worrisome thinking. This with regular hypnotherapy sessions in my clinic and recordings of hypnosis at home helped train her mind to drop down the gears into the natural healthy sleep she sorely needed rather than the busy comfort eating muncher she became at night. She now sleeps like a baby and long gone are the days when she sleep-scoffed! She’s also a lot less tired and has now gone on to train to become the Personal Trainer she always wanted to be but that she’d struggled to find the energy and motivation for when she was feeling tired and fat every day!
Q What are your recommendations for sleep walkers in the first instance?
A Find a good therapist in your area who can work on helping you to both manage and reduce your anxiety and ideally who can use hypnotherapy relaxation techniques or teach your effective self hypnosis to train your mind into learning the healthy relaxation response that leads to blissful, peaceful sleep.