Sleepwalking Is More Common Than Imagined

Despite featuring the disorder in comedy series or horror zombie movies, the overall impression is that sleepwalking isn’t that frequent. However, a new study reveals sleepwalking is more common than imagined, with millions of Americans turning into zombies after dark.

It’s a scary thought knowing that there are millions of Americans suffering from sleepwalking. The scare doesn’t necessarily come from the fact that they are sleepwalkers, but because most of us don’t really know how to correctly handle them. Movies and TV shows taught us contradictory methods: don’t wake them, wake them.

A research released yesterday shows that there are about 8.5 million of U.S. adults suffering from sleepwalking in 2011. The research comes from Stanford University School of Medicine and points out to a staggering sleepwalking 3.6 percent adult population.

So it looks like Homer Simpson’s sleepwalking is more than just humor. Like the overall show, Homer’s sleepwalking represents a problem many Americans today have. Until Stanford’s research, doctors didn’t have an appropriate or recent estimate. The last U.S. study on the matter was conducted over 30 years ago, when a Los Angeles focused research pointed out that 2.5 percent of every 1,000 people had sleepwalking episodes.

Dr. Maurice Ohayon is lead author of the study as well as psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Stanford. He found the data to be “astonishing”. “It’s something, we were thinking, that was not frequent among the general population. And here, big surprise, it is”.

Ohayon believes the study is going to be a benchmark for physicians from now one, given the difficulty of identifying the underlying cause of sleepwalking. The research found that people that constantly intake anti-depressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro and Celexa have a three times higher risk of having a sleepwalking episode.

Same goes for people who take over-the-counter sleeping medication more than twice a month. Scientists found that diphenhydramine is the substance that makes people more vulnerable to sleepwalking episodes. Based on data from the National Institutes of Health, the following over-the-counter sleeping pills contain the above mentioned substance: Simply Sleep, 40 Winks, Sominex, Unisom Sleep, Tylenol PM, Advil PM and Sleep-Eze.

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