Sleepwalking Easily Spotted After Sleep Deprivation

Armen Hareyan's picture

Keeping those with somnambulism awake for a whole day makes sleepwalking episodes occur more frequently as soon as they get asleep.

A team of researchers from University of Montreal conducted a study of somnambulistic behavior between August 2003 and March 2007. Study examined 30 people suspected in sleepwalking, who were diagnosed to have a condition not a result of trauma or medication. Some 10 patients with mild sleep apnea and leg movement were added to the group.


All participants were monitored in a laboratory during a night for baseline sleepwalking behavior. On the next day they were not allowed to sleep for 25 hours. The nigh after sleep deprivation was also monitored in a laboratory. This night showed significantly more somnambulism episodes: 90% of participants had at least one sleepwalking episode, compared to 50% of participants during the baseline night.

Sleepwalking episodes were rated in a 3 level scale: level 1 includes simple confusing behavior, such as playing with bed sheets, level 2 includes any attempt to get out of the bed, such as sitting up in the bed, level 3 includes all episodes with patients leaving bed.

During the night after sleep deprivation the number of sleepwalking episodes were 69, compared to 24 baseline episodes. The 10 participants with other sleep disorders reported even greater increase than those with no additional sleep problems. They increased the frequency of episodes from 8 to 23. Men also reported more sleepwalking episodes than women.

The study comes to ease monitoring for somnambulism behavior in laboratories. Current sleepwalking episodes are not frequent enough to be monitored and patients have not clear diagnosis. In addition the research confirms the need in regular sleep for patients to cut frequency of sleepwalking episodes and to ensure deep sleep for patients.