Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Do you know anyone who

sleepwalks? There is a small piece in today's paper saying that about 3.6% of adults "sleepwalk".
I might not have taken any particular notice of that except that an acquaintance had actually mentioned that her husband had done this on Sunday night. It frightened her.
He has not been well lately and the medication he was given has apparently made him rather restless. He has been sleeping in the spare bedroom rather than disturb his wife. She heard him get up and walk around the house. Then she heard the back door being opened. At that point she went out to investigate, spoke to him and received no response.
When she realised that he was sleepwalking she led him back to bed - in his usual place next to her and put up with him being rather restless for the rest of the night. It is likely he only believed her because he found himself there in the morning. He was going for a medical appointment on Monday and mentioned it to the doctor who told him to stop taking something. Since then he has slept soundly.
I can only assume that his sleepwalking was induced by whatever medication he was taking. That is quite a disturbing thought and I do not blame his wife for being worried.
My mother however was an occasional sleepwalker - without the taking of any medication. It did not happen often and, looking back, I realise she did it when she was stressed. My mother never recognised stress of course. It did not exist for her. It was what other people had. She refused to admit that she ever went sleepwalking. Hers would take the form of wandering into the bedrooms of her children and standing there for a time and then wandering out again.
I shared a bedroom with my two sisters for years and they never woke. I would. My brother woke several times. I can remember lying there rigid with fear as my mother apparently stared down at me with a blank expression. There was no life in her face. I could never bring myself to move or to speak to her. She would stay for what seemed like minutes but was probably no more than seconds. Then she would move on. When she left the room I would get up to check she had gone back to bed.  No, I was definitely not dreaming.
Was she worried about us? I think we disturbed her dreams.  She never mentioned them.
My father is an incredibly restless sleeper. His mother told me stories of how he would throw the bedclothes off and how she made "sleeping bags" from blankets when he was tiny. Even now the bedclothes will end up all over the place. The mattress will be half way off the base. He has even fallen out of bed. Fortunately he has never hurt himself.  He does not however sleepwalk - except on the one occasion when he had taken a certain brand of sleeping pill following an operation on his shoulder.. Even that was not true sleepwalking because he was partly aware that he was out of bed. I contacted his doctor in the morning, told him what I had observed and was told to flush the remaining five tablets down the toilet. They had been prescribed by the hospital and, he said, that was the second person he knew of who had reacted that way.
I am a restless sleeper but I do not, to the best of my knowledge, sleepwalk.
I wonder what makes people do it. What are their minds doing at the time? It might be interesting to know but it might also be disturbing.


Donna Hosie said...

I was a sleepwalker as a child and well into my teens. I've made food and gone outside the house.

I also suffer from sleep paralysis/terrors when I am ill (and usually on medication.) Those are worse than the sleepwalking.

I'm surprised the figure is so low, but perhaps people don't realise they are doing it so it isn't recorded.

JO said...

My daughter sleepwalks under pressure - and has done so since she was 7 - we were in London when the bomb went off in Harrods. We were fine, but she saw many frightened, bloody people, and was old enough to know this could have happened to us. Her teacher was wonderful, and helped her to think it through, but her reaction to extreme stress is to go walkabout. But at least she knows what triggers it, so can find ways to manage it now.

catdownunder said...

Sleep paralysis is awful Donna - I sympathise madly.
I suppose knowing what causes sleepwalking helps Jo but it was still a horrific experience for a seven year old. Too many people think children "grow out of " or "get over" thos things.