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Sleep deprivation used to diagnose sleepwalking
Date:3/18/2008

Somnambulism (sleepwalking), which usually involves misperception and unresponsiveness to the environment, mental confusion and amnesia about sleepwalking episodes, affects up to 4 percent of adults. There has been a sharp rise in the number of studies relating sleepwalking to aggressive and injurious behaviors, including homicides, but unlike most sleep disorders, sleepwalking is diagnosed on the basis of the patients clinical history, since there is no proven method of confirming the diagnosis.

Although clinical reports have suggested that sleep deprivation can lead to sleepwalking in predisposed patients, small studies using this method in the laboratory have yielded mixed results. A new, larger study found that sleep deprivation can precipitate sleepwalking in predisposed individuals and can therefore serve as a valuable tool in diagnosing this disorder. The study will be published in the Annals of Neurology (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana), the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Antonio Zadra of the Universit de Montral, in Quebec, Canada, the study included 40 patients referred to a sleep disorder clinic for suspected sleepwalking between August 2003 and March 2007. All patients were examined and underwent one night of baseline sleep recording in the lab. The next day they went about their regular daytime activities, after which they returned to the lab in the evening, where they were constantly supervised to ensure they did not fall asleep. Recovery sleep took place the next morning, following 25 hours of wakefulness calculated from when they had awakened the previous morning. All patients were videotaped during each sleep period and the authors evaluated behavioral movements which ranged from playing with the bed sheets to getting up from the bed, to determine if they were sleepwalking episodes. They also scored the complexity of
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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