- The concept of "somnambulism" consists of two Latin words: somnus - "dream" and ambulo - "I move." These words describe the essence of the phenomenon - motor phenomena during sleep. It does not include speaking or singing in a dream (these are variants of the norm). It is worth distinguishing somnambulism - movement into the slow stage of sleep (delta sleep) - from a violation of behavior in the stage of REM sleep. Outwardly, they may be similar, only the specialist will see the difference after conducting the research.
Why is it important to understand what we are dealing with? Because movements in the REM phase of sleep, according to recent studies, can occur 10-15 years before the development of clinical manifestations of parkinsonism and other neurodegenerative diseases (alpha synucleinopathies). That is, according to this nature of sleep disorders, it is highly likely that a severe neurological disease will develop that will develop in the future. All this does not apply to somnambulism.
In recent years, it has been proven that the brain does not completely shut off during sleep. Studies show that sleep is an active process.
So, in the REM sleep phase, brain activity may exceed its performance during wakefulness. It also became clear that part of the brain might not sleep. And this is manifested externally: if the structure is not in a state of sleep, but continues to work actively, and for example, it is associated with speech, a person has an agreement. If involved structures that are responsible for motor activity, there is a dream. There is also a condition in which a person’s consciousness is activated during sleep, self-awareness as "I".
This is also an interesting phenomenon - it is normally observed in 35% of people in the population. In this state, a person can control dreams - there are even techniques that allow you to do this. So somnambulism is not a separate pathology, no, it reflects the general phenomenon of partial awakening of the brain during sleep.
What can cause the awakening of the motor center? Any trigger that leads to the awakening of the brain can lead to disruption of the complex interaction of the structures responsible for sleep and wakefulness. There is no specific center of sleep, no specific center of wakefulness.
There are a huge number of structures scattered across the brain. The medulla oblongata, Varoliev bridge, hypothalamus - they contain various centers of sleep and wakefulness, and they interact very difficult. And to break this connection is simple.
Most often, the imbalance between sleep and wakefulness is observed in children. This is not a pathology, but the norm - such a violation occurs, according to various estimates, in about 10% of children.
And if both parents had somnambulism, then the likelihood that the child will have it is ten times higher compared to the control group.
In adults, snowmaking is less common. It can provoke sharp excitement, physical and mental fatigue, lack of sleep, an excess of caffeine, taking certain medications (sleeping pills, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepine receptor antagonists, beta blockers, and many other drugs). The cause may be epileptic disorders, "restless legs syndrome" and other pathologies.