Sleepwalking or Dissociation?


Has anyone questioned if they have sleepwalked or dissociated?

Is the sleep study in adults able to accurately assess if an adult with PTSD has been prone to sleepwalking in the past?

There is research to suggest that PTSD hyper-vigilance causes part of the brain to remain alert during sleep, and also sleep changes, such as staying in deep sleep longer in Phase 1, which is when sleep walking typically happens.

Some research suggests that sleepwalking is related to the Flight aspect of PTSD. And it is listed as a comorbid issue found sometimes with those suffering from DID here: Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

In other words, there is still a debate among the researchers regarding the role of trauma and sleep and sleepwalking in particular, and the data is not clear. It is particularly true that not everyone remembers having trauma, and trauma is often amnesic. So, it is not ethical to traumatize people and then see how it effects their sleep. Therefore, this relationship will remain unclear for some time.


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I know I have sleepwalked. I found things that were inside the house on my back porch. It was really disconcerting. But I also have sleep apnea, so I have never been sure on the why of it.


I’ve only slept walked 3 times in my whole life, 2 of those as a kid, looooong before my trauma history.

Post-trauma I’ve lost countless hours/days/weeks/ & occasional months to disassociation. The worst are probably more fugue-state than anything. To the point that my 2nd greatest fear in life is anterograde amnesia, and I’ve “woken up” (not sleeping, just came back to myself) in different countries & states a time or six. Not for years and years has it been that bad... but for awhile it was really bad. Where am I, what am I doing here, how the f*ck did I get here, what month is it? To give some idea of the scope? Crewing a ship bound for Johannesburg, and a (delightful) hotel in Hong Kong are both places I’ve snapped out of it, when I started out? In New Orleans, USA. Those -and other adventures- are also not including the times I got pissed & hit the road & sobered up in Arizona or Panama or Montreal. To be fair, I’ve also had my bell rung probably a BIT more frequently than is good for me. I have no idea how many times I’ve woken up in hospital being told I’m lucky to be alive. Okay! I’ll agree. Now... why? What happened? Where? With whom? What’s broken, missing, or banged up? All my parts? In what relative working order?


@Friday the Dx for sleepwalking would stipulate that you didn't imbibe; but, strangely they allow for Rx meds as prescribed and don't consider that imbibing as an interference for Dx.

I am not expert. Don't quote me. Just asking questions. I lost three days once, and was seen in a trance like state and interacted some/minimal, but appeared to do some minimal sleepwalking as a child. I have no Dx, so no way for me without expert advice to know if I had sleepwalking or dissociation, or both, happening. I'm guessing the latter, since you don't sleep for three days. But I had PTSD, so, heck. I'm not "normal."


I'm not aware of sleep walking nor has anyone ever noticed me sleep walking .... though my parents do tell the story of me getting ready and wanting to go to school in the middle of the damn night.

Post-trauma I do have occasional night terrors (actual night terrors, not nightmares), though I'm still not sure whether they're actual night terrors or panic attacks (I have a thread on that somewhere in this subforum). But I'm not awake unless woken up by my husband during one. What is "different" for my night terrors is that they're mobile... I start running, which points into the sleep walking direction. I know sleep walking and night terrors are related and happen during the same phase of sleep. It's definitely a sheer flight-response.

here is research to suggest that PTSD hyper-vigilance causes part of the brain to remain alert during sleep

This is something that is absolutely definitely true for me, though I do have sleep-related trauma, which probably had it's share of specific impact on that part. I wake up a lot each night, every night, and to really minor things my husband always sleeps through. My sleep study came back normal, though, but the scientist in me still questions how representative a n=1 under very unusual and unnatural circumstances (all cabled up) really is.

Dissociation like this? Never had it. Also no DID.


I lost three days once,
That was probably something other than sleep walking, because people don't normally sleep for three days in a stretch. It's possible you're doing both though. I was known to walk in my sleep as a kid. Didn't think I did it any more, but then one morning, a few years ago, I noticed the latch on the bedroom door was broken....and so was the door around it. There's an old post about that somewhere. Anyway, I live alone. It's hard to know if it happens often, but I've done things like make it hard to open the basement door, just to try to be a little safer. There are some scary stories out there about what people have done in their sleep. And, some sleep meds can also cause strange sleep related behavior. Still, sleepwalking is part of the sleep cycle, so you should cycle back out of it, not sleepwalk for days.


I have parasomnias. Which means I sleepwalk, cook, eat and clean in my sleep. It has gotten a bit better since I got better, but it is coming back even more now. I woke up in the chicken coop the other night. I assure you, I didn't fall asleep in the coop. I don't know what I was doing. My nightmares are much more frequent, at least one a night. This is my new normal, so I don't worry about it too much. Especially the cleaning. I don't remember it so I clean and it's as if I didn't! I don't like the cooking and eating, though.