E-Pearl of the Week: Nocturnal Wandering in Adults

May 17, 2012


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May 15, 2012

Nocturnal Wandering in Adults

Nocturnal wandering or sleepwalking episodes arise from slow–wave sleep and are characterized by motor activity, impaired judgment, relative unresponsiveness to environmental stimuli, and variable retrograde amnesia. This affects about 3.5% of the U.S. general adult population. People who are chronically sleep deprived or have fragmentation of sleep may be at higher risk for sleepwalking. Historically it has been speculated that sleepwalking is mostly associated with psychiatric conditions, but studies have shown other organic bases to sleepwalking. In fact, many sleepwalkers also suffer from sleep–disordered breathing disorders, and the nocturnal wandering may disappear with successful treatment of the breathing disorder. 


1. Ohayon MM, Mahowald MW, Dauvilliers Y, Krystal AD, Leger D. Prevalence and Comorbidity of Nocturnal Wandering in the U.S. Adult General Population. Neurology 2012; 78: 1583–1589.
2. Guilleminault C, Kirisoglu C, Bao G, Arias V, Chan A, Li KK. Adult chronic sleepwalking and its treatment based on polysomnography. Brain 2005; 128: 1062–1069.

Submitted by: Jennifer E. Fugate, DO

Disclosure: Dr. Fugate serves on the editorial team for the Neurology Resident and Fellow Section.

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