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Stanford study shows millions of Americans are prone to sleepwalking

Have you ever sleepwalked? If so, you're not alone: According to new research out of Stanford's medical school, about 3.6 percent of U.S. adults - or around 8.4 million - are prone to wandering around in the night. The study is the first to use a large, representative sample of the U.S. general population to demonstrate the number of sleepwalkers (19,136 adults in 15 states were surveyed), and the researchers say the findings underscore "the fact that sleepwalking is much more prevalent in adults than previously appreciated.”

The work of Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, and his colleagues also shed light on the theory that medication use and certain psychological and psychiatric conditions act as sleepwalking triggers:

The study also showed that people with depression were 3.5 times more likely to sleepwalk than those without, and people with alcohol abuse/dependence or obsessive-compulsive disorder were also significantly more likely to have sleepwalking episodes. In addition, individuals taking SSRI antidepressants were three times more likely to sleepwalk twice a month or more than those who didn’t.

“There is no doubt an association between nocturnal wanderings and certain conditions, but we don’t know the direction of the causality,” said Ohayon. “Are the medical conditions provoking sleepwalking, or is it vice versa? Or perhaps it’s the treatment that is responsible.”

The study appears online today in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Previously: Video: Patient does art while sleepwalking and Stanford expert: Quality, not quantity, of sleep is what counts
Photo by Rampant Gian

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