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Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea Cause Sleepwalking?

November 7, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmogell @ 9:05 pm

sleepwalker Whenever you see sleepwalking in movies or on TV, it’s usually played for laughs, but in reality, it can easily cause someone to experience serious physical injuries. According to a study published by the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, up to 10% of people with sleep apnea also exhibit “parasomnia” symptoms such as sleepwalking, hallucinations, and even sleep eating. How are they connected, and what should you do if you have obstructive sleep apnea in Vero Beach?

More Than Just Apnea

In the study, researchers examined 537 adults with sleep apnea, and they discovered that 51 patients, or 9.5%, reported some kind of parasomnia symptom. These included complaints about sleep paralysis (brief episodes of being unable to move), sleep-related hallucinations, sleepwalking, and yes, even sleep eating. This is much higher than the national average, causing researchers to believe that there is some type of correlation between them and sleep apnea.

Why They Are Connected

Currently, scientists aren’t exactly sure why people with sleep apnea are more prone to parasomnia symptoms. Some people may already have a predisposition to develop them, but the high occurrence amongst those with sleep apnea means that something else is likely going on. One hypothesis that is currently being tested is that due to the interruptions in the sleep cycle caused by sleep apnea, it somehow interferes and alters how the brain is supposed to function during sleep.

What This Means For You

If you believe that you have sleep apnea or have already been diagnosed, you should definitely seek out or continue treatment as recommended by your doctor. And, if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as waking while standing or doing other activities while asleep, you should certainly mention this to your doctor as well. They may be able to help by recommending a change in your sleep patterns or prescribing medication. Parasomnia symptoms are a tangible risk for those with sleep apnea, so you should definitely have a conversation about them with your doctor whether or not you believe you are experiencing them.


While this research is somewhat preliminary, it still provides tangible evidence that there is some kind of connection between sleep apnea and sleepwalking as well as other potentially dangerous symptoms. Now that you’re aware of this, be sure to keep an eye out for any signs that you might be doing more than just staying in bed while you sleep!

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a sleep dentist who has been serving Florida for more than three decades. At his practice, he provides patients dealing with sleep apnea and snoring with custom-made oral appliances that are proven to enhance sleep quality. They can also serve as a viable CPAP alternative in Vero Beach. To learn more about sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and what you can do about them, he can be contacted for questions through his website.

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