Sleepwalking May Be More Common Than You Think

Researcher Finds 30% of People Polled Have Sleepwalked; Certain Medicines, Disorders Make It More Likely

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Sleepwalking Statistics: Perspective

The new study "adds more concrete numbers" to sleepwalking statistics, says Gayatri Devi, MD, an attending neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital. She is also clinical associate professor of neurology at NYU School of Medicine.

She reviewed the findings for WebMD.

Some past estimates have said that as many as 10% of people sleepwalk at least once in their lifetime, Devi says.

She, too, is surprised that no link was found between prescription sleeping pills and sleepwalking. It could be, she says, that fewer people were taking the prescription medicines than over-the-counter, so the link showed up more clearly with the nonprescription medicines.

"Even though this study did not find an association between prescription sleep medicines and sleepwalking, the fact is, it's pretty well known that the prescription sleeping aids affect sleep architecture," she says. Anything that affects sleep architecture (or sleep pattern and structure) can increase sleepwalking, she says.

Handling a Sleepwalker

What should you do if someone is sleepwalking? "Make sure they are safe," Devi says. "If at all possible, gently try to steer them toward their bed. If they resist, let them be."

Ohayon adds: "Make sure there is a lock on the door and the window. They don't realize what they are doing."

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on May 14, 2012

Sources

SOURCES:

Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, PhD, DSc, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; director, Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto.

Gayatri Devi, MD, attending neurologist, Lenox Hill Hospital; clinical associate professor of neurology, NYU School of Medicine, New York.

Ohayon, M. Neurology, May 15, 2012.

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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