A new study found that adult sleepwalking is a potentially serious condition that may induce violent behaviors and affect health-related quality of life.
"We found a higher frequency of daytime sleepiness, fatigue, insomnia, depressive and anxiety symptoms and altered quality of life in patients with sleepwalking compared to the control group," said Yves Dauvilliers, MD, PhD, the study's principal investigator and lead author. Dr. Dauvilliers is professor of physiology and neurology and director of the sleep lab at Gui-de-Chauliac Hospital in Montpellier, France. "What would usually be considered a benign condition, adult sleepwalking is a potentially serious condition and the consequences of sleepwalking episodes should not be ignored."
Results show that 22.8 percent of sleepwalkers presented with nightly episodes and 43.5 percent presented with weekly episodes. Additionally, a positive history of violent sleep related behaviors was found in 58 percent, including 17 percent who experienced at least one episode involving injuries to the sleepwalker or bed partner that required medical care. Reported injuries included bruises, nose bleeds and fractures, and one participant had sustained multiple fractures and serious head trauma after jumping out of a third-floor window.
Sleepwalking is a common parasomnia affecting up to four percent of adults. It involves complex behaviors that occur during arousals from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During an episode of sleepwalking the brain is partially awake, resulting in complex behaviors, and partially in NREM sleep with no conscious awareness of actions.
According to the authors, this is the largest prospective cohort study on adult sleepwalkers seen in a clinic, using face-to-face clinical interviews, standardized questionnaires, and objective assessment by polysomnography to investigate the clinical characteristics, consequences and comorbidities of sleepwalking.