Night of the Living Sleepwalker
You’re asleep in your home, just entering a great REM cycle with that recurring dream of you slaying a dragon. All until you hear a noise downstairs. You jerk awake, imagining a burglar in your living room. You sit in bed for about 3 minutes waiting to hear the noise again. You do. Now, your breathing gets faster and the internal debate starts on whether to go down and check it out or slide back under your covers and hope it goes away.
At the sound of the third noise, you jump out of bed and scan your room for a baseball bat. Then you remember you don’t play baseball and reach for your heaviest book instead. You slowly exit your room and start down the stairs slowly, so as not to spook the intruder. As you finally reach the bottom of the stairs you peer around the corner and see him.
Except, the intruder is not an intruder at all. It’s actually your idiot brother sleep walking again. You relax your breath and place down the book, deciding to observe him for a minute. Because, after all, you’re not supposed to wake sleepwalkers, right?
As the unconscious zombie wanders about, you laugh for a minute to yourself. That is until he opens the trophy cabinet, pulls down his pj’s and begins to relieve himself all over your first place tennis trophy.
This, my friends, is a true terror I had to endure in childhood. Sleepwalkers have terrorized their homes for far too long and they need to be stopped. Totally kidding, but it is interesting to understand why sleepwalking happens and how it can cause your usually rational brother wake up in the bathtub.
Sleepwalking usually occurs during deep sleep. Since sleepwalking peaks during the early part of the night, it usually occurs in the first few hours after falling asleep. Sleepwalking is more common among children, but can start at any age. So even if your partner has never slept walked before, you, and your beloved trophies, could still be in for a surprise later on in life.
The exact reasons for sleepwalking are unknown. But, it does seem to run in the family. Recent research shows that you are more likely to sleepwalk if other members of your family have the same habit. Some of the reasons that could potentially trigger sleepwalking are: not getting enough sleep, stress and anxiety, drinking too much alcohol, infection with a fever, etc.
Your eyes are usually open while you are sleepwalking. Creepy, right? People tend to move well around known settings, hence why my brother could navigate his way down the stairs and into the living room without a problem. However, sleepwalkers do not recognize people. So that blank zombie stare you get from the sleepwalker in your family is normal (well, to use that term loosely). Usually, sleepwalking episodes last around 10 minutes, but they can be longer. Normally, sleepwalkers do not have any memory of their episodes in the morning. If you wake up a person during a sleepwalking episode, the person may feel confused. So take those pictures so you can laugh about it with (or at) them later.
What To Do
If you see someone sleepwalking, the best thing to do is to make sure they are safe. If undisturbed, they will often go back to sleep again, just like my brother did (in the bathtub). Sometimes, gently waking the person after they have fully come out of the episode might be the best way to go, before settling them back to sleep on their Emma mattress. This way, they are less likely to experience other episodes during the deep-sleep cycle.
While I can’t help you avoid being terrorized by a sleepwalker in the future, I hope you can better understand someone’s need to pee in a trophy cabinet (or not).