Sleepwalking 101

There’s more sleepwalking going on than previously thought. So says a study from Stanford University released this week.

About 8.4 million Americans are prone to “wandering around in the night.” Fortunately, not all at the same time.

This is said to be the first sleepwalking studying using a large sample size –19,136 adults in 15 states were surveyed.


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.”

This video from a few months ago, however, raises another interesting question: When we sleepwalk, are we different people. This guy became an artist when he walked in his sleep. He didn’t much care for at when he was awake.

According to KARE 11:


Dr. Mark Mahowald, former director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a professor at the University of Minnesota and also a visiting professor at Stanford, was a co-author of the study entitled “Prevalence and comorbidity of nocturnal wandering in the U.S. adult general population.”

“The overall message is that sleepwalking is part of the human condition. It is not related necessarily to psychiatric or psychological problems. And it also gives us a window on how the brain works because most people don’t have the idea that our brains can be partly awake and partly asleep at the same time and actually that’s where things get interesting ,” said Dr. Mahowald.

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