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Sleep Hypn. 2017; 19(2): 21-29

A Systematic Review of Treatments for Sleepwalking: 100 Years of Case Studies

Helen M Stallman, Mark Kohler.


While generally harmless, sleepwalking can result in injury to the sleepwalker and/or others, prompting help–seeking. This is the first study to systematically review the scientific evidence underpinning treatments for sleepwalking. A literature search of CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and ScienceDirect was conducted with the keywords ‘sleepwalking’ OR ‘somnambulism’, current to 29 February 2016. Studies were included if they reported on any intervention for sleepwalking. Of the original 53 sourced papers, 44 met the inclusion criteria and were subsequently included for review. None had a methodology that could demonstrate efficacy or effectiveness. Case and case series reports dominate the literature with patients treated with a range of psychological, pharmacological and other interventions. While the results of this review highlight potential treatments, well–designed randomized control trials of theoretically supported interventions that include assessment of adverse effects are urgently needed. Psychological interventions–scheduled waking and hypnosis–are potential first line interventions for evaluation, especially with children, as they are theoretically grounded, case studies suggest they may be effective, and they do not have the side–effects of pharmacological interventions.

Key words: somnambulism, systematic review, intervention, parasomnia

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