Do Sleepwalkers Feel Pain When They Get Injured?

Sleepwalking affects about 4 percent of adults, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports. This type of parasomnia is actually more common among children. Researchers from Hospital Gui-de-Chauliac in Montpellier, France, explored the phenomenon in 2015, and found that among patients who had injured themselves during a sleepwalking episode, nearly 80 percent said they only felt pain after they woke up. In addition, the research, published in the journal Sleep, stated that sleepwalkers are almost four times more likely to have headaches during waking hours, and 10 times more likely to experience debilitating migraines.

Feeling no pain:

  • In the study, out of 100 patients with a sleepwalking diagnosis, 47 reported at least one sleepwalking episode that resulted in injury. Only 10 patients said they woke up right away, immediately feeling pain.

  • One patient in the study jumped out of a third-floor window while sleepwalking, but only felt the pain after waking up. Another reported a leg fracture after a fall from a roof, but he too felt nothing, until later.

  • Scientists aren’t really sure what happens in a sleepwalker’s brain, but lead researcher Regis Lopez suggested that the parasomniac event somehow disrupts the brain’s pain sensory system.

More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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Discussion Comments

anon1002758

I broke my neck sleep walking--C3 and C4. My uncle died when he was sleep walking and went out the french door and landed in the driveway.

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