Skepticism

AI: Sleep Walking

I am not a chronic sleepwalker, but there are a few incidents where I walked or talked in my sleep.

Once I awoke in my parents room, clutching a pillow. The next day, my mum reported that I’d walked into her room about four times that night, carrying pillows and cushions, saying, “Here, take these.”

Another time, I apparently sat bolt upright, stared icily at my bedmate and said, “Oh, it’s only Mr Potato Face.”

Wikipedia, that bastion of reliable information, claims:

Activities such as eating, bathing, urinating, talking, dressing, driving cars, painting, whistling, dancing, committing murder, or engaging in sexual intercourse have been reported or claimed to have occurred during sleepwalking.

Have you ever sleepwalked, or witnessed someone else sleepwalking?

What happened during the incident(s)?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

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49 Comments

  1. @erikthebassist: I had a roommate who did that, except it was the hallway and she was 24. Alcohol may have contributed.

    I’ve been known to mumble in my sleep. No actual words just inflection. Other than that, just the night hags. Been plagued with them since I was a child. Then again, I can credit sleep paralysis for introducing me to skepticism.

  2. I’ve been known to talk when I’m sleep-deprived. When school is in session, I usually stay up most of the night (procrastinating) and take a very long nap in the afternoon. My parents always feel bad when I’m napping, because they want me to sleep more. They’ve asked me whether I have homework or not, and I supposedly tell them “No, no, just let me sleep, I don’t have any work tonight…” every time.

    Sadly, that’s my most interesting sleep walking story.

  3. Not me, that I know of, but my husband and I have had some damn funny conversations while he’s asleep. Usually, it ends with him getting all pissed that I don’t know what he’s talking about…
    More often, though, he gets frisky with me in his sleep and then wakes up all surprised that we’re having sex. It’s endearing.

  4. Kitten used to be a big sleepwalker. We had a very old big home in Wisconsin. It has a small back staircase that was very dangerous. She would wake up and go down the dangerous back staircase and come and stand in front of her dad and myself in the den where we would be watching tv. She would just STAND there. We would say “Go BACK to bed NOW”. She would go back up the rickety back staircase and go to sleep. Her doctor assured me that she would be far safer if we didn’t awake her and we allowed her to go back up the stairs on her own. No one was allowed to use the back stairway, because it was just too dangerous. I was afraid to lock it shut because it was her main route for her sleepwalking.

  5. In my youth, more so in my Dungeons and Dragon playing days, we would usually have an all night game session and crash at whomever’s house we happened to be at. One of our friends had a tendency of sleep walking. One night, while crammed into a room, he sat up right and started to dig into the pompizan chair I was sleeping in. When asked what he was doing, he informed us that he was looking for his twenty sided dice and colorfully put how important it was to be found at that moment. I may have laughed then, but the man was dedicated to the game I suppose.

  6. My husband sleep walks all the time. One time he got up and built a little nest at the end of the bed from our blankets and his pillow. Another time he tried to log roll me to give me CPR (he had first aid training that day). Another time he thought there were bugs all over the bed so he gets up, walks around to my side of the bed, turns the lamp on, and starts freaking out to “warn” me. Mostly he just talks/mumbles and sometimes I’m too half-asleep to have the presence of mind to ignore him so I say “what?” and he half-realizes he’s sleep talking and making no sense, gets embarrassed and frustrated and then huffs off to sleep again. It’s usually hilarious the next day.

  7. I have no memory of it, but apparently when I was about 12 my mother heard a noise in the living room and came out to find me in a rocking chair, holding a large knife.

    She went and got my dad and they both apparently waited there until I put the knife away and went back to bed.

    Had a cousin visiting at the time. She was supposed to stay for a week. She left the next day.

    Don’t think I ever sleepwalked before or after.

  8. Oldest son yells obscenities in his sleep. Maybe releasing his anger during the night keeps him calmer during the day.

    Younger son sleepwalked as a child. He’d get up and raid the kitchen or come in our bedroom and we’d find him under our bed in the morning. He stopped by the time he was around 4. We had to put a lock on the outside of his bedroom door so he wouldn’t hurt himself in the kitchen or wander out the front door.

  9. I don’t, but my fiancee does – a lot. She actually has trouble with her sleep and is on medication for it. She’ll say things that make grammatical sense, but lack in understanding (ex: Did you get the elephant’s license?). If she forgets to take her medication, she’ll practice her black ninja arts on me. I’ve more than once qualified for America’s Funniest Home Videos because of nice swift kick to my groin from her in her sleep. Sometimes, she can’t tell the difference between sleep and wakefulness, so she’ll dream that she told me something, but we never had that conversation.

  10. Once, in my teens I woke up on the couch in the living room although I’d went to sleep in my bedroom.

    Another time, in my 20’s, I was more violent. I was having a dream that my girlfriend and I were being attacked, and so I was fighting the attacker. It ends up I was giving the g/f’s kidney’s some kicks and punches. :( No real injuries on either side, thank FSM.

    I end up hearing a lot of sleeptalking, though.

    My current roommate has a habit of falling asleep on the couch when we watch movies, and she’ll start talking about work. I’ll tell her she’s talking in her sleep, and she’ll deny it, but she talks to me like we still work at the same place.

    In college, I was spending a night in a couple of friends’ room, and I woke up to hear talking. They were having a conversation in their sleep. It was completely nonsensical, but it was definitely a back-and-forth.

  11. @mandydax: My brother in law used to do the whole attack thing in his sleep, usually when he was highly stressed before bed time. He also used to scratch himself til it bled. He eventually figured out a way to remedy much of this by just learning to deal better with stress and as far as I know, doesn’t do either of them anymore.

  12. Usually, it’s just me mumbling in bed, sometimes, incoherent, sometimes, forming words without any order to them, sometimes, I do say something. Other than that, I have woken up with my body in a different position than I was originally. If my head is against the wall, say, next morning, I have woken up with my feet facing the wall.
    As for sleep walking from someone else, they were just mumbling. Although it was quiet funny when my brother just randomly said that he wanted some cheese.

  13. Sleep walking … that is a place in life that I excel. The more a particular medical condition flairs up, the more likely I am to sleep walk. I have been told I do all the standard things, like talking, walking, sex, driving, homework, and going to class (as a student).

    I have woken up in unusual places, like the kitchen or a nearby field. The weirdest, however, is once I woke up two states over. I was in the middle of nowhere, without an apparent means of transportation. I had to walk to a nearby town to a phone for a friend to pick me up. To this day, I don’t have the foggiest idea how I got there.

  14. I was awoken one night by a hand on my shoulder. It’s dark and I can’t tell who it is, but I figure it is my boyfriend. Then I realize that my boyfriend is sleeping next to me.
    Turns out to be our roommate. He says something to me but I don’t understand. “What?” I say.
    “The town in the bathroom.”
    “There’s a towel in the bathroom?”
    “No, the TOWN in the bathroom.”
    “…what about it?” pretending I know what he’s talking about it.
    “Ugh… nevermind.” He figured out my scheme, apparently.
    Then my roommate leaves the room, goes to the downstairs bathroom (I guess cause there is a town in the upstairs one?), and comes back upstairs.
    “What were you trying to tell me?” I ask.
    He raises his arms in a clueless fashion.
    “You were trying to tell me something just now”
    Raised arms again.
    “Alright, goodnight.”

    I always wonder what the appropriate response from me was supposed to be.

  15. I don’t sleepwalk, but apparently I talk in my sleep. One morning we got a phone call as I was deep asleep, and my wife says that I answered it and carried on a conversation, but I don’t remember any of it. My daughter would wander into our room without really waking up, but I don’t know whether it was true sleepwalking.

  16. I lived in a residential college during high school, and one of the boys was teased mercilessly for quite a while because once in his sleep he said “Clickity-clack, clickity-clack, can I have some more icecream please?”.

  17. I am a very light sleeper. I can’t sleep on my back at all because I snore myself awake the moment I start to doze off.

    My girlfriend, on the other hand, is a very heavy sleeper. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and we have a conversation, it is pretty much certain that she won’t remember it in the morning.

    She can be a very active sleeper too. She talks frequently, usually incomprehensibly. Some nights, she moves around, sometimes violently.

    She has elbowed me in the head, karate chopped my shoulder, and kneed me in the ass right where my crotch would have been if I had been facing the other direction. So far, no actual injuries have resulted.

    We really need a bigger bed.

  18. Am I the only one who found it funny that during your list of thinks people do while sleep walking, in you put murder between dancing and sex, lol.

    Back to the original question, I used to sleep walk, mainly I would get up (in winter) take off my blankets, fold them up, and walk down the hall, down the stairs, put them in the closet and go back to sleep. An hour later I would wake up freezing and have to search the house cold and dark, hoping to find them fast enough that I could acually go back to sleep.

    Thankfully, I don’t sleep walk anymore, that I know of.

  19. My sister’s friend stayed over when she was a kid and she sleepwalked all the way home accross the city in her Pjs.

    My cousin got caught sleepwalking looking for her swimming costume to go for a swim (we were staying right by the beach)…scary!

  20. As far as I know I’ve never sleep walked. My younger brother on the other hand did quite a lot as a kid though he grew out of it. Once when he was maybe 7 or 8 he actually peed on my parents bed, apparently thinking he was in the bathroom.

    I also had a roommate once sit bolt upright in bed and yell “bright pink”. In the morning she didn’t remember any of it or why she might have said those words.

  21. @Noadi:

    As far as I know I’ve never sleep walked. My younger brother on the other hand did quite a lot as a kid though he grew out of it. Once when he was maybe 7 or 8 he actually peed on my parents bed, apparently thinking he was in the bathroom.

    Hey! That’s _my_ sleepwalking story!

    I don’t think I do any sleepwalking now, but mom claims she barely stopped me from peeing in their bedroom at 6 or 7, and dad found me sleeping on the bathroom floor once.

    And somewhat related, some people have complained about me making creaking noises early in the morning. Apparently I repeatedly make drawn out creaking sounds about an hour before it’s time to get up, which is a bit of a problem for light sleepers. :D

  22. No, not really. I occasionally mutter in my sleep, but it’s not clear enough to make sense. Sorry, I’m boring.

    Our Shelties sometimes twitch and “walk” while lying on their sides in deep sleep, usually after a hard day of playing. They occasionally give out a low “woof!,” too. :-)

  23. I went into the bathroom once while I was sleepwalking. Sat down on the edge of the tub and drew a bath. Then I just sat there for something like ten minutes while the water poured down the drain, and the sound of the pipes woke up my parents.

  24. I think i only had one sleepwalking incident as a kid. My Mom told me that when i was about 5 or 6 i took off all my clothes and went outside. Then she had to let me back in the house cuz apparently i was locked out. Hah. Luckily, i stopped doing that.

  25. Back in my younger days I used to talk in my sleep quite a bit. Especially after a day of energetic play. Mostly it was reciting (remembering?) things I’d said during the day, but I also once did a palm/heel strike to the back of my cousin’s head when we were crashed out on the floor.

    I did sleep walk once though. I got up, started going through all of the closets and cabinets in the house. I was loud enough that it woke up my mom and she asked what I was doing. For several minutes my only response was, “I’m looking for something.” Eventually, after she repeated the question several times I apparently became irritated and replied, “I’m looking for my underwear!”

    Her laughter woke me up.

  26. my mother told that i would talk and even trying to make conversation. luckily it was in english which my mother doesnt really understand too well. i would probably be embarassed if she did, who knows what one reveals in sleep talking

  27. my schizo friend gave me a bit of his meds once which i stupidly downed with red bull. i had a bad reaction and blacked out. the events after were going to take a bath, coming out of the bathroom naked. my cousins came to visit(which is rare, but happened) and i was a wiggling and speaking who knows what. only my coisins would know. good thing i havent seen them again. i think this is like sleepwalking. oddly though, i believe in psychic connections and stuff like that. my girlfriend called me and she somehow knew i was in trouble. it was like being trapped in a zombie like state. ah good times. the best part of sleepwalking is the tales told by your family and friends. oh and also sleeping with eyes open. scary!

  28. I almost forgot a story a friend of mine told me.

    He used to sleep-walk occasionally when he was a kid. Once time his family was on vacation staying in a hotel and he got up and walked into a wall. He got a bloody nose but didn’t wake up.

    He then made it outside the room and started walking down the hallway with blood streaming down his face. His parents were awoken by the scream of a passerby.

  29. My contribution to the peeing stories: a year or two ago I woke up to find my husband peeing in the wastebasket in our bedroom.

    Me: WTF are you doing?

    Him: Going pee.

    Me: Why not do that in the bathroom????

    Him: Good idea!

    Then he came back to bed and was instantly snoring. I was so angry I slept on the couch. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized he’d been sleepwalking.

    Took a lot of scrubbing (on his part) to get the pee smell out of the bedroom. Fortunately we have hardwood floors.f

  30. My older brother used to sleep walk and once tackled my dad into the bath. He also used to talk in his sleep. Poor guy had to share a room with me (10 years younger) and my brother (12 years younger) up until he got left home at about 19. I never talk in my sleep other than when he was doing it, in which case I’m told I answered him and was caught discussing sandwichs, both of us asleep, in the middle of the night.

  31. I both walk AND talk in my sleep. A couple stories: My brother and I once had a highly amusing conversation about playing Jarts at 2am. I only know it was amusing because our Dad had to come in and tell us to shut it. We were both asleep.

    Shortly after we were married, I scared the living daylights out of my husband by sitting bolt upright in bed, grabbing him by the shoulders and screaming, “CAN YOU FLY THIS THING?” at him. After he recovered from the initial shock, his laughing woke me up.

    A couple years ago he was talking on the to a friend who lives halfway around the world, so they talk very late at night. I wandered out of the bedroom and said, “Where’s Mom?” I kept asking over and over again, until he told me to go back to bed. Ten minutes later I woke up in bed, knowing I had just been sleepwalking/talking.

    Our ten-year-old daughter also walks and talks in her sleep. She’s never done anything dangerous or really scary; mostly she just wanders out of her bedroom and sits on the edge of our bed until one of us wakes up and tells her to go back to bed. Which she usually does, but only after saying in a very little-girl voice, “I love you, Mommy!” Pretty cute.

  32. I once worked with a girl who told me that every now and then she’d beat up her husband in her sleep, scream, and once even started choking him. I thought that I’d read something about this type of thing (this was before I’d had any tertiary education in psychology), so I went and found all the info on the internet that I could about night terrors and emailed to her, telling her that they were actually quite dangerous in adults (especially as she was a hell of a lot heavier than her husband and he’d had trouble getting her off of him the time she tried to choke him).

    I asked her a little while later if she’d seen anyone about it, and she told me that she hadn’t, because her husband “doesn’t believe in that sort of thing”. WHAT.

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