Prevalence of different parasomnias in the general population

Sleep Med. 2010 Dec;11(10):1031-4. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2010.07.011. Epub 2010 Nov 18.


Objective: To estimate lifetime and current prevalence (defined as having experienced the specific parasomnia at least once during the last 3 months) of different parasomnias in the general population. In addition, to study the relationship between the different parasomnias and gender, depressive mood, and symptoms of sleep apnea, insomnia and restless legs, as well as estimating the prevalence of having multiple parasomnias.

Methods: Population based cross-sectional study. One thousand randomly selected adults (51% female), 18years and above, participated in a telephone interview in Norway.

Results: Lifetime prevalence of the different parasomnias varied from about 4% to 67%. For sleep walking lifetime prevalence was 22.4% and current prevalence 1.7%. For the other parasomnias, lifetime and current prevalence were as follows: sleep talking 66.8% and 17.7%, confusional arousal 18.5% and 6.9%, sleep terror 10.4% and 2.7%, injured yourself during sleep 4.3% and 0.9%, injured somebody else during sleep 3.8% and 0.4%, sexual acts during sleep 7.1% and 2.7%, nightmare 66.2% and 19.4%, dream enactment 15.0% and 5.0%, sleep related groaning 31.3% and 13.5%, and sleep-related eating 4.5% and 2.2%. Depressive mood was associated with confusional arousal, sleep terror, sleep-related injury, and nightmare. There were few associations between the parasomnias and gender and symptoms of sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs, respectively. About 12% reported having five or more parasomnias.

Conclusions: This is one of few population based studies investigating the prevalence of parasomnias. Several parasomnias were highly prevalent in the general population. The data need to be interpreted with caution due to methodological issues, i.e., low response rate and single questions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Dreams
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Parasomnias / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Young Adult