Sleepwalking, Confusional-arousals, Night Terrors, and Nocturnal Seizures
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Sleepwalking, Confusional-arousals, Night Terrors, and Nocturnal Seizures

There is no exact test to diagnose sleepwalking, but usually the doctor will do a physical and take an oral history of the patient. The doctor will also look for other medical conditions and will also look for psychological signs such as stress, and anxiety by doing the appropriate psychological testing. If the diagnosis is still unclear the doctor may order some sleep study tests.

How is sleepwalking diagnosed

There is no exact test to diagnose sleepwalking, but usually the doctor will do a physical and take an oral history of the patient. The doctor will also look for other medical conditions and will also look for psychological signs such as stress, and anxiety by doing the appropriate psychological testing.

If the diagnosis is still unclear the doctor may order some sleep study tests.

Other types of medical conditions that are associated with sleepwalking

Confusional-arousals

Again, the condition often occurs within children as young as four or five and starts with moaning and thrashing around in the bed. Confusional-arousals will progress into crying and occasional actual words will be spoken. At other times these words will be undecipherable. The child might sit or stand. The disorder, starts in the first half of the night, but can continue into the latter half. The episodes of confusional-arousals usually last between 5– 15 minutes, but can at times, last up to about 45 minutes. These confusional-arousals go on throughout the night.

If you try to pick up your child, he or she will arch his or her back and trash around. The behavior exhibited by confusional-arousals resembles a temper tantrum in many ways, only the child is still sleeping. However, attempting to wake the child will not be successful.

According to medicine.net, the best thing is to let the episode progress on its own until it is over. The child is not harmed in anyway by these episodes,. Trying to wake the child up will only prolong the episodes. Often they occur in the first place because the child is overtired. Any inference with the body's circadian rhythms such as naps, traveling, or illness can trigger confusional-arousals. Children do not remember these confusional-arousals episodes.

The thing is to make sure your child gets the sleep that he or she needs. Also, sleepwalking does aggravate the confusional-arousals episodes in the early part of the night. If the episodes are frequent and disrupt the family's lifestyle, doctors may prescribe clonazepam at bedtime. The medication usually takes a few weeks to kick in and the confusional-arousals episodes usually go away.

Night Terrors

Night terrors usually commence about 30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half into the sleep process. Just like sleepwalking, the episodes occur during stages three and four of the sleep cycle. However, night terrors are often sudden and appear very extreme and violence, hence the name terrors.

The night terrors episodes start in the toddler stage and will continue to the age of four or five.

Physiological symptoms

The autonomic nervous system surges during night terrors. The heart and respiratory rates are accelerated, the child will sweat, and his or her pupils will dilate.

Causes for night terrors in children

  • Certain medications such as antihistamines for allergies, cold and flu medication, stimulants and sedatives may trigger night terrors.
  • Stress and sleep deprivation can also trigger night terrors. Night terrors follow a different pattern than sleepwalking; they might occur for several weeks, stop altogether, and then start up again.

Nocturnal seizures

Nocturnal seizures are different from the other sleep disorders we have reviewed in this article. For one thing seizures are short-lived. They may last only a few minutes but they are often confused for confusional-arousals, sleepwalking, or night terrors. Nocturnal seizures evoke stereotypical, repeated and frequent behaviors. These nocturnal seizures happen in clusters throughout the latter part of the night. The seizure symptoms include: headaches, grogginess, incontinence (urine) and stool (diarrhea).

A video EEG is used to diagnose nocturnal seizures.

Sources:

http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/C/confusional_arousals.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/sleepwalking/page4.htm

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Comments (7)

You do write the most interesting articles!

I wasn't signed in! But just to reiterate - I love your articles RT'd

Ranked #1 in Sleep

thanks so much hon

Excellent. Sorry, I'm out of votes

excellent article

I have had several occasions of sleep-walking, one just last year. Rather confusing my wife, whom the next morning recounted details of my walkabout to the balcony for several minutes alone, and indecipherable mumblings about something. -I have no memory of this. But from before I was married there was a time to two that I woke in the morning to find dried mud between my toes and mud-covered dried leaves strolled through living-room from what appears to have been a midnight walk outside in the backyard... (after that I started wearing pajama top & bottoms ...just in case... :-o ..)

Ranked #2 in Sleep

As a young person I did sleep walking, talking , singing and actually fought with my husband at times when he tried to stop me for roaming. Well detailed info and interesting.

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