Sleepwalking is more common than previously thought.
ScienceDaily — What goes bump in the night? In many U.S. households: people. That's according to new Stanford University School of Medicine research, which found that about 3.6 percent of U.S. adults -- or upward of 8.4 million -- are prone to sleepwalking. The work also showed an association between nocturnal wanderings and certain psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
The study, the researchers noted, "underscores the fact that sleepwalking is much more prevalent in adults than previously appreciated."
Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is the lead author of the paper, which appeared in the May 15 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Sleepwalking is a disorder "of arousal from non-REM sleep." While wandering around at night can be harmless and is often played for laughs -- anyone remember the Simpsons episode where Homer began wandering around and doing silly things in his sleep? -- sleepwalking can have serious consequences. Episodes can result in injuries to the wanderer or others and lead to impaired psychosocial functioning.
It is thought that medication use and certain psychological and psychiatric conditions can trigger sleepwalking, but the exact causes are unknown. Also unclear to experts in the field is the prevalence.