Sleepwalking Is Much More Common Than You Think

More

New research from Stanford University shows that more than 1.1 million adults in the U.S. may unwittingly wander around at night.

Study of the Day
FOX

PROBLEM: Though sleepwalking can lead to injuries and impaired psychosocial functioning, the causes of this disorder remain a mystery and its prevalence in the U.S. hasn't been studied in 30 years.

METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Stanford University's Maurice Ohayon recruited a sample of 19,136 people from 15 states to estimate the pervasiveness of sleepwalking and evaluate its association with mental disorders. They surveyed them over the phone about their mental health, medical history, and medication use. They also inquired about sleepwalking family histories, childhood incidents, frequency and duration of episodes, and other inappropriate or potentially dangerous behaviors during sleep.

RESULTS: Nearly a third of the subjects have sleepwalked at some point in their lives. As many as 3.6 percent reported at least one episode of sleepwalking in the previous year, with one percent saying they had two or more episodes in a month. Individuals with depression were 3.5 times more likely to sleepwalk than those without. Also, people with alcohol-dependency issues or obsessive-compulsive disorder were significantly more likely to have sleepwalking episodes.

CONCLUSION: More than 1.1 million adults in the U.S. are prone to sleepwalking, and their condition may be tied to psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

IMPLICATION: Ohayon says in a statement that, though further research should explore the direction of the apparent causality between nocturnal wanderings and medical conditions, his group's work could help raise awareness among primary care physicians. He says, "We're not expecting them to diagnose sleepwalking, but they might detect symptoms that could be indices of sleepwalking."

SOURCE: The full study, "Prevalence and Comorbidity of Nocturnal Wandering in the U.S. Adult General Population," is published in the journal Neurology.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In