Causes of sleepwalking and its treatment

1. Introduction to sleepwalking

Sleepwalking (also called somnambulism) is a parasomnia or sleep disorder, where the sufferer engages in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness, while he or she is asleep or in a sleep-like state. (Ref: Wikipedia.org)

The sleepwalkers show a variety of behaviours, ranging from cleaning the house, switching the lights on-off, walking in the house or street, going places, talking as if in a ‘conversation’, shouting, abusing, throwing things, hitting the partners, etc. In extreme cases, some people have had sex with strangers and committed murder while sleepwalking. (Ref: newscientist.com

Sleepwalkers move around with a glazed look in their eyes and there is a myth that one should not wake up a person while they are sleepwalking. Later in the article we explain what one should do in such cases.

Research about sleepwalking shows that as high as 18% of the population suffers from sleepwalking. (Ref: BBC.co.uk)

2. Causes of sleepwalking

There is a lack of consensus on the causes of sleepwalking. Anxiety, fatigue, stress, worry and sleep deprivation are some of the causes that modern sciences have come up with. There are no known cures for sleep walking however, it can be treated with psychotropic drugs and clinical hypnotherapy has also proven to be successful on a short-term basis. (Ref: BBC.co.uk)

The following were the findings on the root causes of sleepwalking from spiritual research that was conducted by the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF).

Root causes of sleepwalking
  • As you can see from the chart above, spiritual factors are the main root cause of sleepwalking. This is one of the reasons why modern science has not been able to come up with a cure for sleepwalking.

  • Spiritual factors are primarily due to departed ancestors and the common ghost (bhūt) playing pranks, i.e. getting the person to do some small mischief. Refer to the article – Why would our ancestors want to trouble us?

  • More elaborate acts during sleepwalking such as sexual interactions with strangers and gruesome murders, etc. are orchestrated by higher level ghosts such as subtle-sorcerers (māntriks). According to spiritual science, even though an act may have happened due to the person being under the complete influence of the ghost, he/she still has to face karmic or spiritual punishment for it. This spiritual punishment is in the form of demerits accrued which play out either in this life or the next. However, the demerits incurred are less than if the person murdered in the waking or conscious state of his own volition. If the cause of sleepwalking is spiritual in nature as opposed to psychological, then the demerits earned are even less. The following diagram will explain this in more detail.

Relative Scale of Demerits

Why do we have to pay for a crime or bad action that a ghost does through us? The reason for this is that a ghost gains entry into our consciousness and possesses us due to our own vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include a high amount of demerits accrued from previous births, incorrect deeds, personality defects such as fear and anger that lead to anxiety and stress, lack of spiritual practice, etc.

3. Treatment of sleepwalking

As the root cause of sleepwalking is primarily spiritual, only spiritual remedies or spiritual practice will help in alleviating it.

  • Regular spiritual practice as recommended in the section on ‘Start your spiritual journey’, will provide relief from this phenomenon. If one is chanting the Name of God, then 5 hours of chanting a day will need to be done to overcome this problem. It is recommended that the person affected does the chant of ‘Shrī Gurudev Datta’ for alleviation of problems due to departed ancestors.

  • Spiritual practice needs to be done daily and lifelong to protect ourselves from the harmful side of the spiritual realm and to also facilitate spiritual progress.

  • It is recommended that partners and other members of the family also do spiritual practice to protect themselves from any hazards or risks from sleepwalkers affected by subtle-bodies of departed ancestors and ghosts.

  • With regards to the myth about not waking up the sleepwalkers, whether the root cause is psychological or spiritual, it is imperative that we wake them up. This is because if the root cause of the sleepwalking is because of being affected by ghosts and the act by itself is a manifestation, then waking them up helps to end the manifestation of the entity. Even if the root cause is psychological, it is best to wake them up so as to prevent them from causing harm to themselves or others.

  • Other spiritual remedies such as salt water treatment are also recommended. Lighting of SSRF incense sticks near the bed when going to sleep will act as a deterrent to ghosts taking advantage of people, and will provide relief to sleep walking.