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Study: Sleepwalker Who Walked 9 Miles Likely Felt No Pain

DENVER (CBS4)- The sleepwalker from Arvada who walked nine miles in socks before waking up likely felt no pain while she was asleep, according to a new study.

Taylor Gammel told GMA her story on Tuesday morning, "It's a shock to me that I made it this far."

Gammel,19, disappeared near 56th Place and Fig Way in Arvada early Oct. 27. Her father said he noticed her missing at approximately 6 a.m. but that her car was still parked at the house.

The study published in the November issue of the journal Sleep found that during sleepwalking episodes, sleepwalkers are unlikely to feel pain if while suffering an injury.

"Our most surprising result was the lack of pain perception during the sleepwalking episodes," Dr. Regis Lopez, principal investigator, psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Hospital Gui-de-Chauliac in Montpellier, France said in a statement. "We report here, for the first time, an analgesia phenomenon associated with sleepwalking."

Gammel woke up about nine miles from her home and realized she was close to her uncle's home. She walked there and he called her parents and police, letting them know she was safe.

Gammel was not hurt but was only wearing socks on her feet. She did say her feet and legs were sore, "Yeah they hurt really bad for a while."

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(credit: CBS)

Nearly half of all sleepwalkers who participated in the study reported having experienced at least one serious sleepwalking episode. Only 10 of those studied reported waking immediately due to pain ad the other reported no pain during the episode but felt pain later in the night or morning.

"Our results may help to understand the mechanisms of the sleepwalking episodes," said Lopez in a statement. "We hypothesize that a dissociate state of arousal may modify the components of sleep-wake behavior, consciousness, and also pain perception."

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleepwalking is a common sleep disorder that affects up to four percent of adults and occurs during incomplete awakenings from deep sleep. The sleepwalker also displays other complex behaviors while out of bed.

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