From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disorder belonging to the parasomnia family. Sleepwalkers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a state of low consciousness and perform activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness. These activities can be as benign as sitting up in bed, walking to the bathroom, and cleaning, or as hazardous as cooking, driving, extremely violent gestures, grabbing at hallucinated objects, or even homicide.
Although generally sleepwalking cases consist of simple, repeated behaviours, there are occasionally reports of people performing complex behaviours while asleep, although their legitimacy is often disputed. In 2004, sleep medicine experts in Australia claimed to have successfully treated a woman who claimed to have sex with strangers in her sleep. In December 2008, reports were published of a woman who sent semi-coherent emails while sleepwalking, including one inviting a friend around for dinner and drinks. Sleepwalkers often have little or no memory of the incident, as they are not truly conscious. Although their eyes are open, their expression is dim and glazed over. Sleepwalking may last as little as 30 seconds or as long as 30 minutes.