Epidemiology

Generally parasomnias, particularly those that are associated with non-REM sleep are commoner in childhood, but studies showed that non- REM parasomnias are not uncommon in adults. Parasomnias have been reported in approximately 4% of the adult population (Ohayon et al., 2000).

Prevalence of sleepwalking, which consists of a series of complex behaviours that are initiated during slow wave sleep and result in walking during sleep, varies from 10 per 1,000 to 145 per 1,000. In a population of adults prevalence of sleep walking was 20 per 1,000 (Guilleminault et al., 2003).

Sleep terrors, which are characterized by sudden arousal from slow wave sleep with a piercing scream or cry, accompanied by autonomic and behavioral manifestations of intense fear, are a common parasomnia in childhood. Its prevalence in children varies from 30% to 398 per 1,000, but prevalence of 22 per 1,000 was found in an adult population (Kales et al., 1980).

Nightmares are frightening dreams that usually awaken the sleeper from REM sleep. Between 10 and 20% of children experience nightmares that disturb their parents while 50% of adults have occasional nightmares and 1% have one or more nightmares per week.

Sleep paralysis consists of a period of inability to perform voluntary movements at sleep onset, hypnagogic or predormital form, or upon awakening, either during the night or in the morning, hypnopompic or postdormital. Lifetime prevalence of isolated sleep paralysis in the general population in Germany and Italy was shown to be 62 per 1,000. Sleep enuresis is characterized by recurrent involuntary micturition that occurs during sleep. In children prevalence of sleep enuresis could be up to 250 per 1,000. In adults prevalence of nocturnal enuresis varies from 2 to 38 per 1,000.

Sleepwalking occurs more frequently in children with an estimated prevalence of up to 40 per cent in this age group. Prevalence among adults is about 4 per cent. Prevalence of RBD is estimated to be about 0.5 per cent13. REM sleep behaviour disorder tends to affect older adults, with a mean age of onset of 50 to 60 years, predominantly affecting males.

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