Sleepwalking in Adults More Common Than Thought

The study also found that people who had depression were 3.5 times more likely to sleepwalk, and those with obsessive compulsive disorder were four times more likely to sleepwalk than people without the disorders.

New research suggests that sleepwalking may be much more common in adults than previously thought, and having depression or anxiety may increase your likelihood of experiencing the condition. The study is published in the May 15, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“While our results show that having psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder may increase the risk of sleepwalking, they also suggest that sleepwalking is much more common in adults than was previously thought and may have other natural causes as well,” said study author Maurice M. Ohayon, M.D., DSc, Ph.D., of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Scientists interviewed 15,929 Americans ages 18 and older from 15 states. Participants were asked questions about their sleeping habits, general health, medications taken, and mental disorders. In the study, 30 percent had a history of sleepwalking. Of those, 3.6 percent reported sleepwalking at least once in the past year. One percent had two or more episodes in a month, and 2.6 percent had between one and 12 episodes in the past year. People who sleepwalked at least once in the previous year were more likely to have a family history of sleepwalking than the rest of the participants by about 30 percent to 17 percent.

The study found that people who had depression were 3.5 times more likely to sleepwalk, and those with obsessive compulsive disorder were four times more likely to sleepwalk than people without the disorders. A total of 3.1 percent of those with depression were sleepwalking twice a month or more, compared to 0.9 percent of those with no depression, and 7.3 percent of those with obsessive compulsive disorder were sleepwalking twice a month or more, compared to 1 percent without the disorder.

People who took certain antidepressants were three times more likely to sleepwalk twice a month or more compared to those who didn’t take antidepressants, 2.4 percent compared to 0.9 percent.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Arrillaga Foundation, the Bing Foundation, and Neurocrines Biosciences.

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