Bizarre sleepwalking linked to sleeping pill


Feb 2, 2007

A suspect sleeping pill is causing Australians to paint the front door, binge-eat, and drive while still asleep, a new study reveals.

The Federal Health Department has received 16 separate reports of odd "sleepwalking" behaviour caused by the drug Stilnox, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

A woman taking the drug "woke with a paintbrush in her hand after painting the front door while asleep," the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee said in a bulletin published yesterday.

Another patient reportedly gained 23 kilograms over seven months while taking Stilnox.

"It was only when she was discovered eating in front of an open refrigerator while asleep that the problem was resolved," the bulletin said.

The committee also received two alarming reports "which suggest the possibility of driving while asleep."

The new study marks the first time "inappropriate or strange automatic behaviour" related to Stilnox has been noted in Australia since the drug was introduced here in 2000, although cases have been reported overseas.

The health department also received 104 reports of hallucinations and 62 of amnesia relating to the drug.

Alan Brindell, a spokesman for the manufacturer of Stilnox, Sanofi-Aventis, told the Herald it had not been proven that the drug was causing the disturbed sleep behaviour.

Brindell could not provide an estimate for the number of people in Australia using Stilnox, which is only available on prescription and attracts no subsidy