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Is Sleepwalking in Our Genes?

A new study suggests that kids are much more likely to sleepwalk if both their parents do, as reported by Time magazine. That means children may have a genetic disposition to sleepwalking, which is also known as somnambulism.

Published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the study looked at sleep data for 1,940 kids, as well as that of their parents. Researchers found that children were three times more likely to become a sleepwalker if they had one parent who was, and seven times more likely to sleepwalk if both parents had a history of it. The prevalence of somnambulism was 61.5 percent for youngsters whose parents both had sleepwalking tendencies.

MORE: A Frightening Sleepwalking Adventure

"These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors," the study authors write. "This effect may occur through polymorphisms in the genes involved in slow-wave sleep generation or sleep depth. Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately."

The overall prevalence of sleepwalking in childhood reported among kids ages 2.5 to 13 years old was 29.1 percent, and the overall prevalence of sleep terrors for kids between age 1.5 to 13 was 56.2 percent. Kids who had sleep terrors were more likely to develop sleepwalking, compared to kids who did not have them.

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