Prevalence of sleepwalking in an adult population

Original article


Celestine Okorome Mume

Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria

Libyan J Med 2010, 5: 2143 – DOI: 10.4176/090907


Background: Sleepwalking consists of a series of behavioral activities that occur during sleep. These activities may be simple, complex or aggressive in nature. They include motor activities, confusion, and amnesia for the events. Sleepwalking is a disorder of arousal from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In children, episodes of sleepwalking are rarely violent; in adults, however, sleepwalking might include violence, which could endanger the patient or others and might precipitate legal issues. There is inadequate information on the prevalence and demographic correlates of sleepwalking in Nigeria. Objectives: One objective of this study was to determine the lifetime prevalence rate of sleepwalking in an adult population in Ile-Ife, in Southwestern Nigeria. Another objective was to determine the age and sex distribution of sleepwalking among those who have experienced it at least once in their lifetime. Materials and Methods: A random sample of 228 healthy individuals aged 18-60 years was obtained and the members were asked to fill out a survey form about lifetime prevalence rate of sleepwalking. Results: The overall lifetime prevalence rate of sleepwalking was 7% (16 of 228 participants). It was 10.4% in males and 3.5% in females, but the difference was not statistically significant (p=0.07). Conclusion: This study has shown that sleepwalking is common in the population. In view of the psychological effects of sleepwalking and the potential physical and legal problems associated with it, adequate efforts should be made for early detection and prompt management of the condition.

Keywords: sleepwalking; somnambulism; sleep disorder; parasomnia