About One-Third of People in the U.S. Have Sleepwalked

A study published in the journal Neurology today suggests that almost one in three people in the U.S. will sleepwalk at some point in their lives.

While some of the study was done in labs, the lead author also gathered data by calling about 16,000 adults.

Overall, about 29 percent said they had sleepwalked at least once in their lives. Close to three percent said they currently did it between once a year and once a month, and one percent said they sleepwalked at least twice per month.

Neurologist and sleep medicine specialist Dr. Timothy Young, who was not part of the study, said that he was "not too surprised by the results."

The study also showed that people who suffer from OCD and severe depression have a higher risk of sleepwalking. Other more obvious causes of sleepwalking: heavy drinking, sleeping pills, and sleep apnea. There appeared to be a link between sleepwalking and people taking the SSRI type of antidepressants — but since people taking SSRIs are generally depressed, the correlation might be meaningless.

To avoid sleepwalking, Young suggests that you steer clear of whatever triggers your sleepwalking episodes. If popping an Ambien before bed makes you walk into the kitchen at 4 a.m., don't take Ambien. Of course, this assumes you know what your triggers are.

Oh, and don't worry about waking a sleepwalker up. They won't die — except maybe of confusion and embarrassment. And it's best to get sleepwalkers back in their beds before they do something regrettable, like walk into a table or eat an entire box of cereal.

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