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."