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Sleep Emailing

May 1, 2006

Sleep doctors consider sleeping pills to be an option of last resort. Here’s one case study that’s a striking example of what can go wrong.


An unexpected nightlife. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Recently researchers have documented some unusual side effects of the sleep aid Ambien—not only sleepwalking, but sleep driving, sleep eating, and even sleep crimes. Now doctors at the JFK Medical Center in New Jersey report that a patient wrote emails in her sleep. Fouzia Siddiqui says that after taking Ambien and going to bed, the patient got up, turned on the computer, logged on to her email, and typed dinner invitations to her friends.

FOUZIA SIDDIQUI (JFK Medical Center, New Jersey):
She was totally shocked to hear that she actually wrote any email, and she went back into her sent folder and she found these 3 emails which she had written.

The researchers believe it’s the first documented case of complex cognitive activity while sleepwalking. They add it’s impossible to know whether Ambien caused the episode. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.