Many people may not know whether they sleepwalk, but a recent survey has revealed that one in three people in the US admitted to doing it at least once during their lives.
The study also looked into causal factors that can increase the likelihood of sleepwalking, and found that severe depression and other sleep disorders may increase the possibility. These findings are interesting for researchers as an increasing amount of studies look to analyse how well (or unwell) we are sleeping at the moment.
"We did not know what was the prevalence of sleepwalking - as a disorder - in the general population, and that was a big problem," said Maurice Ohayon, director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center in California, who led the study, which appeared in the journal Neurology.
Past research has largely been confined to laboratories, but this creates an artificial scenario which may not reflect trends that are happening at home. This is something Mr Ohayon wanted to address, conducting a study which actually focused on peoples lives.
Questions asked in the survey included an analysis of lifestyle and sleeping habits, overall health and whether they had any sleep, mental or other types of disorders, including sleepwalking. The results showed that people with sleep apnea or insomnia, heavy drinkers and people taking sleeping pills are more likely to sleepwalk.
Drugs seemed to be a prominent causal factor, with the researchers also tying sleepwalking patterns to antidepressant drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but the researchers said this could be explained by the conditions those drugs treat. Both major depression and OCD were also linked to sleepwalking.
Timothy Young, a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, said he wasn’t surprised by the results. He said that sleepwalking usually tapers off as we get older, with the condition being particularly prominent in children.
Posted by Michael Ewing