"The bad news is that this is self-report only of a behavior that has partial or total amnesia for the event as one of the defining characteristics," said Dr. Rosalind Cartwright, a psychologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who was not part of the study. Usually, researchers find that bed partners are more reliable sources for reporting a person's sleepwalking, she said.
And as more Americans get less sleep than they need or develop more sleep apnea because of rising obesity rates, the numbers of sleepwalkers could continue to rise.
Currently, there are few treatments for sleepwalking, and most therapies emphasize good sleep hygiene – making sure to eliminate things that can prevent people from getting deep, restful sleep. Schulman said it's also important to take precautions, such as locking doors or securing or removing objects that could be harmful, to keep sleepwalking from becoming dangerous.
Schulman said it's important to remember that sleepwalking is ultimately a safety issue, and people should talk to their doctors.
"If you're sleepwalking, it's important to talk to your doctor. You're not going to be written off as crazy," he said.