The Skeptical Somnambulist (On A Saturday Morning)

Urgh. Imagine having a lengthy dream about coordinating four cats to get to three different veterinary establishments, all before 9am, with two requiring their yearly vaccinations and taken back home; another needing to be dropped off for an overnight operation at another venue across town, and… then waking up at 5.40am in the kitchen looking for a cat-carrier before realising that you’ve started sleepwalking again.

While I’m not the same league as the active sleeptalker known as ‘Sleep Talking Man‘ (a somnambulist and somniloquist, involving starting arguments and conflict when asleep – his story hit Discovery news recently!), I have had my own adventures whilst asleep. Research has shown that the prevalence of sleepwalking in first-degree relatives of an affected individual is at least ten times greater than that in the general population (Kales et al., 1980). Since I do have a first-degree relative who is a sleepwalker, I think I know where I’ve ended up inheriting this odd practice.

Over the years, my sleepwalking has increased in frequency, usually in relation to times of stress or anxiety. There were a few anxious moments at the end of 2010 and I’ve found myself slowly waking up in another room in the house, going through a laundry basket. It’s not pleasant for me and I try not to worry too much about it (what if I start going through the knife drawer? What if I start opening the front door and walking out or trying to get into a car? What about those accounts of people having sex when they’re sleepwalking!? What if… what if…), because then it just raises my anxiety levels further. I don’t, however, like sharing a room with people I don’t know and have even chosen being by myself than run the risk of waking up standing over a stranger saying ‘Why has Fat Cat taken my pillow?

Despite all of this – I greatly enjoy reading the accounts of Sleep Talkin’ Man:

 “Hurray for me! Yup, I said it. Now the rest of you can join in.”

“Just look at yourself. Yeah, now look at me. You don’t stand a chance. It must suck to be you, I’m sure.”

“FYI: I vibrate when I see cats and apples. Never take me to the kitty orchard. It’ll get messy.”

Why pray, when you can Google?

Adam, the somniloquist, appears to have a fascinating ‘alter ego’ when he’s asleep, and whilst the occasional debate rages on the site as to whether the whole thing is staged or not, I’m less inclined to be skeptical of what they say. Or maybe I just plain enjoy the style in which he says things, I don’t really care.

As for me? I might just try seeing if I can catch up on some of the sleep that I didn’t really get with all the planning to get non-existent cat appointments fulfilled.

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • unbound

    My wife is a sleep talker…almost a sleep walker. It is also related to stress for her as well. I’ve had a few interesting conversations with her since she actually sits up to talk. Some of the conversations go back and forth a good dozen times before I can figure out she’s sleep talking again…other conversations make no sense and end quickly. I just reassure her, she lays back down and goes back to sleep (at this point, this means she’s closed her eyes again and is quiet since she was already asleep) almost instantly.

    The eerie part being on the other side of the equation is that she appears to be completely awake. Her eyes are open, she’s sitting up and she is clearly addressing me. Only once I understood what was going on (a couple of years into our marriage) did things start making sense.

    I hope you stay safe Kylie…at least I don’t have to worry about my wife wandering around the house and potentially taking a spill down the stairs.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Thank you! Very sweet of you to say – and yes, I ‘look awake’ too. I remember ‘waking up’ mid-conversation I was having with someone, insisting that there was a party in the house that I wasn’t invited to… and oddly enough, I had walked down some stairs, perfectly fine, in order to have that conversation. Thankfully no stairs in this house! :)

  • Aliasalpha

    Given the options, I think I’ll stick to my occasional bouts of insomnia. It’s far less confusing and I get to catch up on TV shows I’ve not seen

    “What if I start opening the front door and walking out or trying to get into a car”. If my experience with other drivers is anything to go by, I suspect that you’d probably still drive better than half the awake drivers on the road