Recent research has found that sleepwalking is on the increase especially among adults and that as many as 20% of adults experience sleepwalking. What are the factors that can affect sleepwalking; why is it becoming more common?

Sleepwalking is regarded as a sleep disorder and can be potentially dangerous for the sleepwalker as well as unnerving for people in the immediate vicinity. Should they awaken the sleepwalker, might it be dangerous to do so, is the person really sleepwalking, are they aware of what they're doing? Guiding the person gently back to bed is usually the least disturbing option and often the sleepwalker has no memory of what has happened during that time.

Sleepwalking tend to occur more frequently among members of the same family, but environmental factors can also be relevant. Usually when people sleep they experience a kind of paralysis of their muscles so that if they dream of running or flying dreams they do not actually engage in these activities. Watch a sleeping dog and you'll be able to guess when he's dreaming of chasing rabbits; you'll see his paws twitch as he chases after them.

Let's take some time to consider the factors that can affect sleepwalking:

– Diet can be a factor. Bad diet and poor quality food are becoming an increasing cause for concern amongst health professionals. Poor quality food full of preservatives, pesticides, flavorings, chemicals, excess salt, sugar and fat is increasingly suspected of being responsible for the high incidence of many modern health conditions. Some food is transported over vast distances and kept in storage for days or weeks at a time, losing much of its nutritional value in the process. Becoming more aware of what we eat and trying to choose healthier options, like locally sourced, seasonal, organic food can help improve our health and general wellbeing and improve our quality of restful sleep.

– Drinks can affect on our health. Excessive consumption of alcohol, especially spirits like whiskey and gin have been found to affect the quality of dreams and sleep, causing disturbed sleep and troubled dreams. Caffeine and sugary drinks are sometimes used to boost energy and keep people awake and alert but our bodies then have to process and detoxify what has been ingested. Over time these toxins can affect the healthy functioning of our central nervous system.

– Stress is often a factor in sleepwalking. People who are stressed, under a lot of pressure, dealing with an excess of turmoil in their lives often sleepwalk more. Of course, there are people who sleepwalk for no apparent reason, their lives are fine. But other people can reduce their proclivity to sleepwalk by learning to manage stress and pressure by introducing effective stress management techniques.

– Learning better sleeping habits can help. Keep to a reasonably regular routine, exercise, wind down before bed, and avoid over-stimulation from late night films, difficult conversations, computer games. These habits can all prepare the mind to become calm and still before bed. Try to avoid becoming over tired or going without sleep for long periods.

Taking steps to improve the quality of your sleep and manage external environmental factors can all help your mind become calmer, more settled and help minimize the conditions that can cause sleepwalking.