January 10, 2012

Sleepwalking Is Crazy

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What is the issue?

I love sleeping. After having sex and reading books, it’s my favorite thing to do in bed. So you may think I was annoyed when my roommate walked into my room at 5 AM this morning, rousing me from my delicious slumber. Instead, I found it amusing to see him standing there in his underwear, glassy-eyed and confused like a moronic zombie.

“Hey.”

“Oh, hey,” he said, like he was surprised to find me in my bed an hour before dawn. Must be bewildering when people intrude on your dreams.

I thought he’d leave, but instead he started grabbing my hoodie off the back of my chair.

“Um, that’s my hoodie.”

“Oh,” he said, and paused for a moment, then started grabbing my other hoodie.

“That’s also my hoodie.”

“Oh yeah. I thought… everyone… sometimes… has a new… hoodie…” and then he walked out of the room, but backwards, still facing me, like I was the Queen of England.

If it had never happened before, I’d have been freaked out, but I’m used to it. To his credit, it’s only happened a few times, because after the first incident my roommate started barricading himself in his bedroom with a metal stool. Sometimes I wake up to the sound of him sleeptripping over it.

Sleepwalking is silly to me, but to people who suffer from somnambulism, it can be a serious curse. People can write coherent emails, prepare and eat food, drive cars, ride horses, and even have sex with strangers while sound asleep.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia once went sleeprunning out a second story window. He now sleeps in a sleeping bag with mittens on his hands so he can’t unzip his nightly cocoon. He has to protect himself from himself before nodding off.

Wikipedia has a dedicated page to ‘Homicidal sleepwalking’. Some of the highlights include:

A teenage girl who sleepshot her family members to defend them from a monster.

A guy who sleepbeat his landlady to death, thinking she was a Nazi.

A Parisian dude who sleepswam across the river Seine, stabbed a dude with a sword, and sleepswam home.

Some people who get ty-ty and end up committing sleepmurder later get acquitted due to temporary insanity, while others are found guilty and imprisoned or sentenced to death. Seems like a nightmare either way. And being a jury member on a sleepmurder trial would be no cakewalk. But I feel especially bad for the victims. Seriously, wouldn’t it suck to get murdered by someone who’s asleep? If I ever get murdered, I hope my killer will at least have the common courtesy to be conscious.

Tuna fish swim in their sleep. Swifts sleepfly. Donald Duck sleepwalks through a zoo. Donnie Darko sleeptalks to Frank the Rabbit. Ed Norton turns into Brad Pitt when he’s asleep, so he can manage Project Mayhem. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly sleepdestroy their kitchen in Step Brothers. Lady Macbeth screams “Out, damned spot!” while compulsively sleepwashing her bloodstained hands. The wife in Paranormal Activity gets out of bed and stands there staring at her husband for hours. It’s such a simple scene, yet so scary, because we’re at our most vulnerable when we’re asleep. That’s why sleeping with someone, literally sleeping with someone, is such an intimate act. Perhaps that’s when we’re most ourselves, when our eyes are closed and we’re off in dreamland.

Do monkeys sleepwalk? Do giraffes? Did the dinosaurs?

How do I know I’m not a sleepwalker too? What if every night I eat mayonnaise sandwiches while riding the Q train, and I don’t even know it?

The most interesting human behavior is the stuff nobody can fully explain. Scientists say sleepwalking has to do with genetics and stress, but they don’t really know what’s going on. It’s a mystery, and that’s OK. Mysteries are cool.

I hope my roommate doesn’t kill me. TC mark

Ethan Ryan

Ethan Ryan loves humor, horror, and pop culture. His work has been published in print and online.

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