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Until just a few years ago, sleepwalking was considered a bizarre rarity--something like .4% of the population was thought affected--yet almost all of us have a sleepwalking relative or a good sleepwalking story. In 2012 the first major study on the prevalence of sleepwalking was a wake-up call. The May 2012 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, reported a study involving over 15,000 Americans 18 and older:

  1. It seems that about 30% of us have had some experience of sleepwalking in our lifetimes. Often times these experiences happen when we are children. This seems to be related to the higher amount of REM sleep that children get relative to adults
  2. 2.6% of adults report regular sleepwalking (12 episodes or more per year).
  3. Those who are depressed or diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and especially those taking medication for these conditions are three to four times more likely to sleepwalk.

We also know from research that those who are experiencing high levels of stress, short-term anxiety, or missed sleep are more likely to sleepwalk.

Although most sleepwalking is harmless--others try to drive cars, become confused and belligerent, or take long walks. If anything, sleepwalkers usually need to be protected from themselves. Contrary to belief, the best thing you can do is wake up a sleepwalker to stop the episode and let them work back into deep sleep from the beginning.

The Mayo Clinic notes that there is no particular treatment for sleepwalking, but general improvements in "sleep hygiene" seem helpful. That means, you guessed it, having a healthy routine and a comfortable mattress. We want to move through the stages of sleep without interruption. That means keeping tossing and turning, movement transfer, and perceived warmth to a minimum...which having the proper mattress can help with.

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