23 May 2012
Sleepwalking a common habit
Do you recognise this? Waking up in the middle of the night standing in the kitchen instead of lying in your bed. According to a new study sleepwalking is far more common. They are talking about one third of adults who sleepwalk at some point in their lives.
Sleepwalking is a type of parasomnia and typically occurs during the REM-sleep and can last from a few seconds till half an hour. The symptoms of parasomnia are sleep-related eating, night terrors and sleep paralysis. However, the study focuses on the broader term ‘nocturnal wandering’, because most of the interviewers were not diagnosed and were very confused with their strange sleep habits.
The findings of this study were quite disturbing. Of the 15,000 interviewed adults 30 percent reported at least one experience with nocturnal wandering at some point in their lives. More than 3.5 percent experienced it in the last year. But are there any associations with sleepwalking, wondered Dr. Maurice Ohayon, director of the Sleep Epidemiology Research Center at Stanford University and an author of the study. Well they found possible triggers of the disorder.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressions and alcohol drinkers are more likely to sleepwalk. Surprisingly lack of sleep was also a higher risk of having ‘nocturnal walks’.
Unfortunately this is no answer to the causality. So the researchers still have a long way to go… In the meanwhile they have given us some possible treatments. Because stress is the main factor within parasomnia, they have recommended a therapeutic or a stress-manager. Also medication is a potential step for sleepwalkers, but this is most of the time just symptom killer. Thus I think we have to wait till the researchers have finished, to put the nocturnal walkers finally at ease.