I’ve recently heard that sleep is more important for health than diet and exercise. If that’s true, then I’m in trouble. I’ve had sleep issues since I was a child.
Once, when I was eight years old, I woke up outside sitting in a lawn chair. The lights were out, the door was locked and my family was asleep.
That’s pretty scary for a kid, not to mention incredibly embarrassing to be locked outside in race car pajamas. Fortunately, everyone else in the community, state, and nation, was fast asleep, indoors, in bed, where I wanted to be.
I must have circled our house a dozen times trying to figure out what to do. At first I thought, maybe I’ll just wait outside until morning. But then I started picturing Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street rounding the corner of the house. Needless to say, I finally mustered the courage to knock on my parent’s window.
The next day, my dad installed a special lock on the top of the door. It kept me from going outside at night, but I continued to walk and talk in my sleep until I went to college. I was pretty sure I was over it, but my college roommates were quick to inform me of how wrong I was. One roommate said that while I was asleep, I used to call out the last names of girls I had dated. That was embarrassing, mostly because he and I were interested in some of the same girls. I had dated one or two of them without his knowledge. You can imagine how strange it was for him in the middle of the night when I cried out their last names, waking him up and breaking his heart at the same time while I continued to sleep.
Another roommate was forced to yell at me one night until I woke up. He had good reason because, in my sleep, I had started disassembling our bunk beds. I was standing at the foot of the bed, pushing up on one end of the top bunk. I had already removed one of the slats and was working on the other when I woke up. This would usually not be a problem, but my roommate was still in the top bunk. When I came to consciousness and acknowledged his cries, I shook my head, reassembled the bed frame, crawled back into my bottom bunk, and covered my head with the blanket.
After a few minutes of loud silence, my roommate, who I’m sure was contemplating my mental stability, finally asked, “What the heck were you doing?”
Embarrassed, I rolled over and mumbled, “There’s very little point in me trying to explain.”
It should come as no surprise, he left college after that semester. I thought I was finally finished freaking people out with my sleep disorders.
But then I got married.
One night, after three weeks of wedded bliss, I sat up straight in bed and screamed, “We’ve got to support the missionaries!” before collapsing back to my pillow. My poor wife managed to squeak out, “Ok.” Only I didn’t hear her because I was sound asleep. She, however, spent the rest of the night fully awake, wondering if she married a psycho.
Now, after almost three decades of wedded bliss, I’m proud to say I finally stopped walking and talking in my sleep (at least to my knowledge). I’ve traded them both for two other disorders, snoring and restless legs syndrome.
*Image courtesy of Bekah Russom and Unsplash