Sleepwalking by the Numbers

By April Mayer
Last Updated On October 18th, 2020

Have you ever sleepwalked before? What about talked? Sleepwalking (and talking) tends to fade as webut it can still be a persistent problem in many adults. We spoke to 1,007…

Sleepwalking by the Numbers

Have you ever sleepwalked before? What about talked? Sleepwalking (and talking) tends to fade as we outgrow our childhood and teenage years, Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source but it can still be a persistent problem in many adults. We spoke to 1,007 people across the country and asked them to recount their sleepwalking and sleeptalking experiences.

These behaviors are certainly more common than we expected, and there were a few crazy stories along the way. Sleeptalkers often revealed way too much, and sleepwalkers sometimes put themselves in harm’s way. Continue reading to see how this impacts their sleep, their life, and even the lives of those around them.

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Sleepwalker Stats

percentages-of-sleepwalking-frequencies

Sleepwalking is a disorder, but it’s not always brought on by underlying psychological or psychiatric problems; instead, it can happen to anyone. And it can certainly be dangerous depending on what a sleeping person chooses to do while on the go. Among participants, 21 percent had witnessed someone sleepwalking, and 11.4 percent said they are prone to sleepwalking. Roughly 3 in 10 sleepwalked at least a few times per year, and as many as 21 percent sleepwalked two to three times every week.

Sleeptalking, or “somniloquy,” was an even more common disorder, and potentially even more revealing depending on the content shared. Almost half of the respondents had overheard someone talking in their sleep, and the same number knew they spoke in their sleep. Before we dive into some of these sleepy confessions, let’s take a look at some of the actions people did while sleeping or witnessed other sleepwalkers do.

What Sleepwalking Looks Like

percentages-of-sleepwalk-behaviors

Those who had sleepwalked, as well as those who witnessed sleepwalking, said the most common thing they saw was wandering. Often, the wandering continued into random rooms (14.4 percent) or leaving the house altogether (15.8 percent). Seven percent of respondents had either seen another somnambulant person injure themselves or had done so themselves.

Once a person’s sleepwalking habits start to cause significant disruption to the individual Verified Source Mayo Clinic Ranked #1 hospital by U.S. News & World Report and one of the most trusted medical institutions in the world. The staff is committed to integrated patient care, education, and research. View source or the household, it’s time to see a doctor. Still, only 47 percent of respondents felt compelled to try to stop their behavior. Of those who tried to stop sleepwalking, nearly 60 percent attempted to get more quality sleep, and 38.9 percent looked for ways to cope with their stress and anxiety. Somnambulism is linked to emotional stress and/or sleep deprivation, Verified Source Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Nonprofit organization that promotes awareness about anxiety and depression. View source so these two approaches are well-founded. A third even tried to limit their caffeine intake, which can worsen existing anxiety disorders, in some cases.

Top Topics of Sleeptalkers

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Most people who were aware they talked in their sleep were at least slightly concerned, and after hearing some of the topics they brought up, we understand why: Sleeptalking caused 23 percent of respondents to say something they regretted, and more than 1 in 10 had their feelings hurt by the person they overheard. People often brought up their marriage in their sleep (20.1 percent) or overheard someone discussing their fears (25.9 percent). Even finances and secrets were occasionally revealed.

It’s also important to note the enormous difference between those who overheard incoherent rambling compared to sleeptalkers who were told their speech was incoherent. Less than 4 percent were told their sleeptalking was incoherent, meaning it probably wasn’t worth mentioning by the person who overheard them, while nearly half said they had heard someone else ramble incoherently in their sleep at least once.

Somnambulance and Somniloquy Impact

percentage-comparisons-of-sleepwalkers-and-non-sleepwalkers

Some of the next statistics we found were pretty shocking: Sleepwalkers were twice as likely to have nightmares as those who didn’t wander around at night. And 28 percent of sleeptalkers had screamed in their sleep before. It makes sense, then, that sleepwalkers and talkers were also much less likely to feel satisfied with their sleep.

Even while awake, however, sleepwalkers and talkers reported higher levels of workplace stress and lower levels of productivity. Yet, it was the sleeptalkers who found their productivity and stress most heavily impacted by their sleep disorder. More than 67 percent of non-sleeptalkers managed to feel productive at work, compared to just 60 percent of sleeptalkers.

Sleep Stories

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Not all stories were so terrible, however. Respondents did manage to get a few laughs from some of their sleepwalking and talking experiences. As one 31-year-old woman told us, “I left my room, and I went into my husband’s office. He was still awake. I had a full conversation with him about George Washington.” One could even describe this experience as educational!

Another 27-year-old woman said she had fallen asleep and, while still asleep, walked into the kitchen and asked her mom where her head was.

Sleep for the Cure

In response to these findings, Amerisleep writer April Mayer said, “We’re glad to see and contribute to spreading awareness of sleep disorders – or any type of sleep disturbance, really – and how heavily it impacts a person’s waking success and satisfaction. Everything from nightmares to productivity can be influenced by how often you get to bed, and whether you can keep from walking and talking once you’re asleep!”

Ultimately, sleepwalking and talking did interfere with the well-being of our participants. People were more stressed, less productive, and twice as likely to have nightmares if they sleepwalked. And sleeptalkers often revealed more than they wanted to, sometimes offending those around them. The data all points to just how crucial sleep is for a high-quality life.

By starting with the proper expert care and insights from our sleep coaches, Amerisleep is here to share the information and tools you need for a better night’s sleep. Called “the Apple store of mattress stores” by Forbes and earning over 15,000 positive reviews from our well-rested customers, we’re on a mission to help America get better sleep. So, head to Amerisleep.com today to get started.

Methodology and Limitations

We collected results from 1,007 people via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Of the 1,007 people surveyed, 50.6 percent were female, 49.3 percent were male, and 0.1 percent did not select either box. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 79 with an average age of 38 and a standard deviation of 12. The margin of error of this study is plus or minus 3 percent, with a 95 percent confidence interval.

An attention-check question was used to identify and disqualify those who failed to read questions in their entirety. The main limitation of this study is the reliance on self-reporting, which is faced with a wide variety of issues, including, but not limited to, exaggeration, attribution, telescoping, and recency bias. An effort was made to minimize bias throughout the survey design, data collection, and visualization.

Fair Use Statement

This topic of rest is one that we’re deeply passionate about spreading awareness for. We believe everyone deserves a great night’s sleep, so please share the data behind this study. Be sure your purposes are noncommercial, and you link back to this page.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

April Mayer has a degree in exercise physiology and is a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep. April’s passion lies in helping others lead more productive lives by helping them get sound, restful sleep every night. April primarily writes about foods and vitamins for better sleep and has written several “better sleep guides” covering a wide variety of topics in her time with Early Bird.

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