U.S. Lifetime Prevalence of Sleep Walking ~30 Percent

More frequent episodes linked to obstructive sleep apnea; alcohol abuse; use of sleeping pills, SSRIs

TUESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- The lifetime prevalence of nocturnal wandering with abnormal state of consciousness (NW) is approximately 30 percent in the U.S. general population, according to a study published in the May 15 issue of Neurology.

In an effort to assess the prevalence and comorbid conditions of NW, Maurice M. Ohayon, M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D., of Stanford University in California, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study with a representative sample of 19,136 non-institutionalized individuals from the U.S. general population. Questions were administered on life and sleeping habits; health; and sleep, mental, and organic disorders, using the Sleep-EVAL expert system.

The researchers found that NW had a lifetime prevalence of 29.2 percent. NW was reported by 3.6 percent of the sample in the previous year; 1 and 2.6 percent had two or more episodes per month and between one and 12 episodes in the previous year, respectively. Of NW participants, 30.5 percent reported a family history of NW. There was a higher risk of frequent NW episodes (at least two per month) for those with obstructive sleep apnea (odds ratio [OR], 3.9), circadian rhythm sleep disorder (OR, 3.4), insomnia disorder (OR, 2.1), alcohol abuse/dependence (OR, 3.5), major depressive disorder (OR, 3.5), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OR, 3.9), and for those using over-the-counter sleeping pills (OR, 2.5) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (OR, 3.0).

"This study supports the organic nature of sleepwalking, and underscores the fact that sleepwalking is much more prevalent in adults than previously appreciated," the authors conclude.

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