Sleepwalkers are unlikely to feel pain while sleepwalking despite suffering horrendous injuries, a new study finds.
Despite that, sleepwalkers are more sensitive to getting headaches and migraines when awake.
Dr. Regis Lopez, who led the study, said:
“Our most surprising result was the lack of pain perception during the sleepwalking episodes.
We report here, for the first time, an analgesia phenomenon associated with sleepwalking.”
The conclusions come from a survey of 100 sleepwalkers.
Amongst sleepwalkers who had injured themselves, 79% felt no pain and the injury did not wake them up.
They only realised they’d injured themselves later in the night or in the morning.
One sleepwalker had jumped out of a third-floor window and sustained severe fractures.
But he hadn’t noticed it until waking later in the night.
Another sleepwalker climbed onto the roof during an episode and fell, breaking his leg.
He felt no pain until he woke in the morning.
Despite this, sleepwalkers were more susceptible to pain during the day.
They were ten times more likely than normal to report migraines and four times more likely to report headaches.
Dr. Lopez said:
“Our results may help to understand the mechanisms of the sleepwalking episodes.
We hypothesize that a dissociate state of arousal may modify the components of sleep-wake behavior, consciousness, and also pain perception.”
The study was published in the journal Sleep (Lopez et al., 2015).
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Sleepwalking image from Shutterstock