This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Sleep-walking must be regarded as a nervous disorder, or at least symptomatic of a disordered condition of the nervous system. It most often occurs in persons of a hysterical temperament, being very common in persons suffering from hysteria. In this class of persons it may be induced by anything which occasions disordered sleep. It always occurs in connection with dreams, which are sometimes of such a vivid character as to occasion violent exertion on the part of the patient.
When the person is found to be addicted to sleepwalking, careful inquiry should be made respecting the condition of his health, particularly that of the nervous system, and treatment should be applied accordingly. All causes likely to excite the nervous system should be removed. In order to prevent the patient from doing himself harm, he should be carefully watched during the night. When this is impossible the door of the sleeping appartment should be locked, and the window so arranged as to prevent egress. It has been recently suggested that sleep-walking may be cured by placing by the side of the sleep-walker's bed a strip of sheet-iron, tin, zinc, or other metal of such length and width that when he puts his feet out of the bed they will rest upon the metal. It is claimed that the sensation produced by contact with the cold metal will awaken the person. A strip of wet carpet has been successfully used in the same way. We have known several instances in which somnambulists have narrowly escaped death from falling from a high window, being caught and restrained just in time to prevent the catastrophe.