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Sleepwalking Disorder Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Sleepwalking Children Diagnosis, Sleepwalking Diagnosis, Sleep Walk Diagnosis, Sleep Problems Diagnosis, Somnambulism Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Sleepwalking Disorder Diagnosed?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) specifies the following criteria for sleepwalking disorder:

  • There are repeated episodes of rising from bed during sleep. The episode may occur during the first third of the night and may include sitting up in bed, looking around and walking.
  • The person is unresponsive to attempts at communication. The person has dilated pupils, eyes open, blank stare and does not respond to communication. Affected persons are usually awakened with great difficulty.
  • The sleepwalker has no recollection of the incident. There is no memory of the sleepwalking event and when the person wakes up they have a vague memory of the incident. The person may oftentimes return to bed or fall asleep in a different place without knowing how they get there.
  • The condition causes distressing consequences such as disruption to the social and occupational situations and affects their ability to function.
  • There is no impairment of mental activity upon waking.
  • Sleepwalking is not caused by substance use or abuse. The condition is not diagnosed when the cause is substance related or due to medication or any medical condition.

Sleepwalking disorder usually no longer needs polysomnogram or a sleep study when diagnosing this type of sleep disorder. However it can be a helpful diagnostic tool to rule out other sleep disorders. The initial diagnosis for sleepwalking disorder usually involves a medical history and physical examination. 6 These diagnostic procedures are often carried out in order to rule out other underlying medical problems and to make a differential diagnosis.

The sleepwalker cannot recall their sleepwalking activity and interviews are of little benefit, unless the interviewee is someone else who has witnessed the sleepwalking behavior.

Could You Have Sleepwalking Disorder?

Sleepwalking Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Narcolepsy – Dyssomnia, Chronic Sleep Disorder, Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Insomnia
Nightmare Disorder – Parasomnia Disorder, Temporary Inability to Regain Consciousness, Moaning, Screaming, Gasping
Parasomnia NOS – Abnormal Sleep Behavior Involving Movements, Emotions and Perceptions, Sleep Arousal, Sleepwalking, Night Terrors
Sleep Terror Disorder – Night Terror, Parasomnia, Extreme Terror, Gasping, Moaning