According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics sleepwalkers are more likely to give birth to children who will be at their turn somnambulists. The findings of the research suggest that 60% of sleepwalking children have parents who suffer from the same disorder.
The study was conducted on children from Quebec, Canada. The findings show that children who have at least one somnambulist parent or a parent who had suffered from somnambulism in the past have three times the odds of becoming somnambulists themselves compared to children who do not have sleepwalking parents. Moreover children whose parents are both sleepwalkers have seven times the odds of suffering from this sleep disorder.
Sleepwalking is an often met childhood sleep disorder which usually disappears in adolescence. Another early childhood sleep disorder is sleep terrors or night terrors in which children start screaming and they experience an intense fear and a prolonged period in which they cannot be consoled. These two sleep disorders are known as parasomnias and are similar in characteristics. According to the study the cause of these disorders is slow-wave sleep or deep sleep which has the main function of helping the brain to recover from the daily activities. Slow-wave sleep is also considered to play an important role in the consolidation of new memories.
According to the study children who have experienced sleep terrors are more likely to be sleepwalkers. The researchers noted:
“These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors.”
This may be caused by polymorphisms in the genes involved in the generation of slow-wave sleep. According to the researchers parents who have been sleepwalkers should expect their children to experience the same problems and should be adequately prepared for this. The first signs of sleepwalking usually appear in children at the average age of three or four.
Some of the signs which are associated with sleepwalking are the following: the child gets out of bed and walks out and about, shows a dazed expression and blank eyes. Although the child may seem awake he or she won’t show any signs of communication and will return promptly to sleep. In addition after waking up the child won’t be able to remember what happened during the night time.