SleepwalkingÂ or somnambulismÂ has long considered to be a fairly rare disorder for many years. Researchers have been studying the disorder for many years in an attempt to give clinicians more feedback on what to do to treat patients suffering from it. However, that research may fail to help many patients as doctors have likely failed to identify the disorder among many of them.
According to a study conducted in Europe a decade ago, only 2% of the adult population suffered from the disorder. New research suggests that rate is much higher.
How Many People Sleepwalk?
According toÂ Maurice Ohayon, the Stanford professor who conducted the research, about 30% of people sleepwalk at some course in their lives. The study was conducted after polling 16,000 people, who provided case studies going back to their childhood. A similar study conducted in 2011 found that about 3.6% of the adult population sleepwalked, which was only slightly higher than the number reported in Europe 10 years ago.
[box type=”note”]Very few studies have been conducted on the prevalence of sleepwalking in adults. Therefore, the actual number of patients suffering from the disorder may be higher than estimated. On the other hand, it could be possible that more adults are sleepwalking in recent years.[/box]
A number of different factors have been linked to the likelihood of developing parasomnia disorders suchÂ as sleepwalking. These include depression, substance abuse, certain medications, obsessive compulsive disorder and extreme anxiety. People suffering from insomnia are also at an increased risk of sleepwalking. Doctors advise these correlating factors to patients suffering from sleepwalking disorders, but they do not know how to help their patients if neither is aware of the condition.
Link between Sleep Medication and Sleepwalking?
[box type=”important”]Ohayon’s study didn’t find a link between sleeping disorders and prescription medication used to treat insomnia. Previous studies found a correlation between the two.[/box]
According to neurologistÂ Gayatri Devi at Lenox Hill Hospital, individuals suffering from sleepwalking can be at considerable risk of injury. Those close to them should do everything they can to make sure that they are safe. If this new study is accurate, then it may indicate that more people are at risk than previously thought.