Stanford Study Finds Nearly 30% of Americans Have Sleepwalked

Posted on May 14, 2012

A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine researchers has found that nearly 30% of U.S. adults have sleepwalked at least once in their lifetime - typically when they were children. 3.6% of American adults have been sleepwalking within the past year. This means there are over 8.4 million adults in the U.S. that have gone sleepwalking within the past 12 months. The researchers say the study, published in Neurology, "underscores the fact that sleepwalking is much more prevalent in adults than previously appreciated."

The researchers secured a sample of 19,136 individuals from 15 states and then used phone surveys to gather information on participants' mental health, medical history and medication use. Participants were asked specific questions related to sleepwalking, including frequency of episodes during sleep, duration of the sleep disorder and any inappropriate or potentially dangerous behaviors during sleep. Those who didn't report any episodes in the last year were asked if they had sleepwalked during their childhood. Participants were also queried about whether there was a family history of sleepwalking and whether they had other parasomnia symptoms, such as sleep terrors and violent behaviors during sleep.

Here are some highlights of the study's findings: Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, lead author of the paper, says, "There is no doubt an association between nocturnal wanderings and certain conditions, but we don't know the direction of the causality. Are the medical conditions provoking sleepwalking, or is it vice versa? Or perhaps it's the treatment that is responsible."