Monday, April 30, 2007

To Sleep, Perchance to...Sleepwalk

I was a senior in high school and I had volunteered to be a camp counselor for 5th Grade Camp Pioneer. One night I was startled out of my slumber. One of my kids was standing over my bed. Afraid he was going to pee on me, I quickly shot up to my feet. The kid was asleep, yet there he was! I thought...if I wake him up, will he suddenly have a stroke or go into a coma? I had heard that waking someone in the middle of sleepwalking episode could be fatal. Luckily, I was able to guide him back to his bed where he stayed all night.

But people still wonder: will waking a sleepwalker make them go into shock?

"You can startle sleepwalkers, and they can be very disoriented when you wake them up and they can have violent, or confused reactions, but I have not heard of a documented case of someone dying from being woken up," reports Michael Salemi, manager of the California Center for Sleep Disorders.

Obviously, quickly guiding them back to bed is the fastest and easiest thing to do. But sometimes sleepwalkers do very complicated tasks like driving a car or unlocking doors. In those cases, it's best to wake them up before they hurt themselves or others.

The danger really is to the person doing the waking up. A sleepwalker may become disoriented or panicked if they're woken up, and they might flail their arms about or become violent. "If you wake a sleepwalker abruptly, you can startle him and may wind up with a black eye," says Gary Zammit, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Institute at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City.

It's amazing some of the stuff that some people will do while sleepwalking. Here are just a few examples:

A woman in Australia was reported to leave her home and have sex with strangers...all while asleep. Her boyfriend once even found her in the act outside the house. They worked with a medical research facility in Sydney, and this case was confirmed a true case of sleepwalking.

Kenneth Parks drove 14 miles, murdered his mother-in-law and nearly killed his father-in-law while experiencing a sleepwalking epis0de. He had no motive in this case, and dearly loved his mother-in-law especially. Parks drove himself to a police station after waking up and finding blood all over himself. In 1988, a jury found him not guilty of murder since Parks was totally asleep during the act of killing.

Recently, there have been bizarre stories of people eating while asleep. Although this has been linked to the use of Ambien, sleep-eating is not a new phenomenon. The disorder is known as sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) and combines both sleeping and eating disorders. It's a horrible problem for the nearly 3 million Americans that suffer from this. Shelly Egemo of Iowa suffered from SRED almost all of her life. It got to the point where her husband nicknamed her side of the bed "Shelly's Snack Shop."

At night, she'd go to the kitchen and bring back all kinds of goodies including cookies, cakes, and chips. Shelly said, "In the morning, there would be frosting in my hair and M&M's stuck to my husband's back."

Finally, one guy writing on a message board on Digg admitted his sleep walking included spontaneous urination. He would get up, walk around, believe he was in the bathroom, and drop his pants and pee. His parents would find wet spots all around the house the next morning, and they were perplexed. They solved the mystery during one close-call. "I walked into my parents room one night and stood right next to my mom and pulled down my pants. Luckily for her she is a light sleeper and she woke up before I gave her a golden shower."

Maybe it was Mother's Day?


Eve said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Eve said...

My eldest sleep walks. It's very scary. We have even caught him going "pee pee" in the bathroom trashcan. I swear, a fire wouldn't even wake him up.

BUT, the day I wake up to a"golden shower"... I'm fucking out of here... =)

Stephanie said...

I used to be a sleepwalker. Or, well, so I'm told from my parents.

I vaguely remember a few episodes I had in high school. I woke up once in the kitchen. I was making toast.

Jennifer said...

For shame Jay, making fun of sleepwalkers.

*sniff* *sniff*

I was a sleepwalker, I peed on my moms couch. Boy, was she pissed.


The Phoenix said...

eve, at least he did in the trashcan. I've heard in college some dude pissed on his roommate's laundry.

stephanie, You made toast? Thank God you didn't burn the house down.

jennifer, She was pissed because you pissed? Don't tell me this just happened last month!

delmer said...

I used to sleepwalk and once took a leak in my brother's room. And there was the problem in Missouri.

My oldest, back when he was about 7, peed on the steps on the way up to his room. I was directing him upstairs and he kept looking at me and answering everything I said with, "What, what." I had my hands full with something. He stopped midway up the steps, and still saying "What, what?" dropped his pants and urinated.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

The PK talks in his sleep...which can be pretty entertaining when I can't sleep and am looking for a little entertainment. :)

As far as the ambien goes...well, The Pk has a tendancy to mix it with alcohol...and it's created some episodes at Palace Peanut that even I won't blog about!

David Amulet said...

I walked in my sleep once. I woke up with this blog.

-- david

Mr. Shife said...

A golden shower for Mother's Day. That's funny.
I guess you can punch the sleepwalker in the face so they get the black eye.

mad said...

On the other hand, encountering a sleepwalker is a great opportunity to play some great practical jokes!

ajooja said...

In high school, one of my friends called an ex-girlfriend while he was asleep.

Luckily, she could tell what was going on and said, "Eric, hang up and go back to bed."

He didn't remember anything about it the next day. His current girlfriend wasn't too happy.

ozymandiaz said...

Next time I do something really F'd up, I was sleepwalkin' OK?

Tai said...

I actually know a man that died sleepwalking.
The house he lived in was under going renovations...he was sleepwalking when he took a miss step on the threshold of a new door, fell backwards, cracked his head and died.

Lulu (Dan's cat) said...

My dad used to sleep-walk. Once I was sliently cheering him on ... hoping he'd step into my god-forsaken litter box. He almost did. It ruled.


Nan said...

I don't sleepwalk but sometimes I get caught in between and when I wake up I always scream. Sometimes there great disturbance and turbulence in our bedroom.

Vani said...

lol- i'll have to remember this excuse if i ever go through with my threat of killing my husband in his sleep. :)

Kyahgirl said...

as far as I know I only did it once...I got up when I was about 10, got the keys to my parent's car and started to leave the house. Luckily my older brother was in the kitchen making a late night snack and he came and asked me what I was doing. I told him 'I'm going to Trail' (the next town). He managed to get me back to bed and that was it.
very weird!
thankfully, neither of my children sleepwalk. I'd never get any sleep!

Jamie Dawn said...

Thank You, Phoenix!
I FINALLY have an answer as to why I have such a fat bohunkus.
I've been sleepeating.
I shall install locks on the fridge and rig an alarm on the pantry door.
My fat butt days are over!

My hubby did the weird sleep walking thing while he was taking Ambien. He can no longer take it because of the bizarre effects it had on him. We had a few very weird happenings whilst he was on that drug, and he didn't remember any of it.

I feel horrible for the guy who killed his MIL.
One could never get over such a thing.
I suppose his wife was a little freaked out after that. She probably handcuffs him to the bed each night, and not in a kinky kind of way. She has to be sure he can't get up, grab a knife, and slit her throat in his sleep.
On second thought, that guy has a great excuse for doing just about anything.

angel, jr. said...

Maybe I sleep eat. I've gained so much weight these past few months and I have no idea why (it may have something to do with my new taste for peanut M&Ms). I would like to blame it on unconscious eating.

Big Pissy said...

I was a sleepwalker as a child.

One of my brothers caught me as I was going out the front door of our house one night when I was 8 years old.

Lucky for me....

Sassy Blondie said...

My college roommate would sleepwalk when she drank heavily. I woke up one night to see her squatting in our closet and peeing all over our shoes! I didn't really care if you were supposed to wake a sleepwalker up, I slapped the shit out of her. I practically had to go barefoot for the next week until I could shoe shop on my starving college student budget. She also peed in the bathroom trash, on her desk chair, and in the stairwell. She did not remember any of these episodes. Obviously, one semester was all I could take, and so I became an RA to have the private room.

Grafs said...

I never slept walked, but I imagine if I did, I'd be quite the menace to society.

goldennib said...

Nice ending.

When my husband goes to bed before I do, he's usually on my side of the bed. In order to get him to move over, I have to wake him up. While waking him, I have to hold tightly to both fists or I'm liable to get punch in the face.

Jenna Howard said...

This guy once sleep walked when he was drunk. He wandered into our bathroom and pissed all over the floor, shut the door then passed out again. My brother wandered into the bathroom, yelled, lept into the tub "He pissed all over the place." When our peeing sleep walker headed for the bathroom again, my brother made his friends put him out on the front step. Only problem was...we had to bring him back in. I do not want to know how they did that. I can live 10 more years utterly ignorant of that trick.

Orhan Kahn said...

Awesome post, dude. The last story left me a bit spooked. Imagine waken up to piss patches all over the place. Not nice.

Fated said...

Oh my goodness! I can't even imagine all the strange things people do in your sleep. I once slept next to someone who experienced night terrors and would wake up screaming. That was bad enough. People talk in their sleep are also fantastic. I am very glad my sleep problems are limited to insomnia and grinding my teeth. No sleep slaying or sex for me!

the weirdgirl said...

Once when I was camping on a high-school trip, one of our friends slept-shat in the tent. I'm not kidding. There were about eight of us in that tent and I happened to be right next to the guy. He apparently dreamed he was in the bathroom and just let loose, then woke up enough to realize where he was, and threw his sleeping bag over until morning. (He didn't continue sleeping there.) The rest of us woke up to an awful smell in the morning.

For the remainder of the trip every time we had beans that poor guy heard about it!

I just sleep talk. I have almost belted Keen a few times when he woke me, though.

Phats said...

I feel very educated on this topic, if I ever come across a sleepwalker I will know exactly what to do thanks Phoenix

Sar said...

Funny! I um used to sleepwalk & sleeptalk. But having kids seemed to cure it. Either that or hubby is a really sound sleeper.

Fernando said...

I was a sleepwalker, didnt kill any ppl or urinate my mom tho =P interesting article

Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

My brother does the sleep walk urination trick, or at least, he used to. It made being his room mate pretty scarry.

The Egg said...

Sleep eating is real! Beware of Ambien!

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