Sleepwalking (also called noctambulism or somnambulism), under the larger category of parasomnias, is a sleep disorder where the sufferer engages in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness while asleep or in a sleeplike state.

Sleepwalking can affect people of any age. It generally occurs when an individual awakes suddenly from deep sleep (slow wave sleep), causing the sleepwalking episode.

In children and young adults, a greater percentage of sleep is spent in deep sleep -- children and young adults are therfore more likely to suffer sleepwalking episodes.

Activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, or even driving cars, whistling, having sex and murder have also been recorded as taking place while the subjects are technically asleep. Contrary to popular belief, most cases of sleepwalking do not consist of walking around (without the conscious knowledge of the subject). Most cases of sleepwalking occur when the person is awakened by something that disturbs their deep sleep.

Sleepwalkers engage in their activities with their eyes open so they can navigate their surroundings (not with their eyes closed and their arms outstretched). The victims' eyes may have a glazed or empty appearance and, if questioned, the subject will be slow to answer and will be unable to respond in an intelligible manner.

Sleepwalkers are more likely to endanger themselves than anyone else -- gently steering them away from any danger and back to bed is advisable.

Source: wikipedia GFDL

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