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Sleepwalking in Adults More Common Than Thought
Date:5/15/2012

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Sleepwalkers on TV and in movies are often played for drama or laughs, but the phenomenon is surprisingly common in American households, a large, new study suggests.

In what they said is the first research in three decades on sleepwalking prevalence in the United States, scientists from Stanford University School of Medicine found that about 3.6 percent of U.S. adults are prone to sleepwalking, a higher proportion than previously thought. Nocturnal wandering is also tied to certain psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"It's probably more common than we realize, which doesn't surprise me," said Dr. B. Tucker Woodson, professor and chief of the division of sleep medicine at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who wasn't involved in the study. "As clinicians we often see the cases in which it's a problem, so if the occasional sleepwalking episode is not causing any problems, it tends not to be something people seek medical attention for."

The study is published May 15 in the journal Neurology.

Study author Dr. Maurice Ohayon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, and his colleagues interviewed about 19,000 people aged 18 and older from 15 states, questioning them about their sleeping habits, general health, medications taken and mental disorders. Those who reported sleepwalking were asked about the frequency, duration, family history and any inappropriate or potentially dangerous behaviors during sleep.

Nearly 30 percent of participants reported having sleepwalked at least once in their lifetime, while nearly one-third of the 3.6 percent who had done so within the previous year said they sleepwalked twice or more each month. Family history was a strong predictor, with about 30 percent of those who sleepwalked at least once in the previous year h
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