After reading the text in Chapter 5 and doing some research, the most interesting concept to me was sleepwalking and why people do it. Sleepwalking is basically where a person walks while they are fully asleep and may involve some activity. There have been stories reported of people driving a car and even killing others while sleepwalking. While most sleepwalking isn't this intense, it is still an interesting sleep disorder to be aware of. The question that always comes to my mind is: What causes a person to sleepwalk?
Sleepwalking usually occurs during non-REM, stages 3 or 4 of sleep and many people link it to physiological factors. Some other factors that I found in research were very surprising to me. They were genetic and environmental. This brings us back to the nature/nurture debate in a different form. Genetically, sleepwalking actually occurs more frequently in identical twins, and is ten times more likely to occur if a first degree relative has a history of sleepwalking. As for environmental factors the most common are sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, stress, and alcohol intoxication to name a few. I also found that the chemical messenger in the brain, GABA, has a role in a person sleepwalking. It has been speculated that a lack of this, or an underdeveloped system which inhibits the activity of the brain, could be a cause.
While all or one of these factors may play a role in a person sleepwalking, it is very hard to pinpoint why a person sleepwalks as it can happen to an individual on any given night. You can't predict the night before whether or not you will sleepwalk, so really there is no definite answer to my question of what causes a person to sleepwalk. The one thing I think we have to keep in mind is whether sleepwalking is caused by something specific (sleep deprivation, alcohol, GABA, etc.) or whether it's our genes or environment that plays a role.
Sleepwalking happens most often in children and this video I found shows a good example of a young child sleepwalking.