As the moon rises in the sky and darkness falls outside homes across the world, most of you crawl into bed, turn out the light, and slumber away, without any idea that a select group of nocturnally challenged sleepers are wandering around in skimpy nightclothes without any idea that they are wandering around in skimpy nightclothes. You may have heard of us. We are sleepwalkers.
A news headline this week brought this issue to the forefront in my own home: Sleepwalker found in hedge twelve miles away in little more than a nightdress. My husband lowered the paper and looked at me as he read the headline aloud, paused in great length, and then cautiously asked, “You’re not going to …?”
I held up my hand to stop him. “I can’t promise you anything. You know that.” But in truth, I knew I couldn’t blame the guy for asking. Since grade school, I had been building quite a reputation for doing strange things in the middle of the night. At age eight when I was supposed to be dreaming about fairy tales and princesses, I rose out of bed while deep asleep, walked down a flight of stairs, told my mother I was going to fix the television, and then sat on the couch and stared at the wall. Apparently no one, including me, knew I had secretly been nurturing a strong desire to pursue a career in the exciting field of television repair once I graduated from high school. When my mother told me the story the next morning, I giggled without realizing that that experience would be the start of a vicious sleepwalking cycle that continues to this day.
When I was single, I lived in a small apartment with no place to park my bicycle except next to my bed. One morning, I awoke, rubbed my eyes, and glanced around the bedroom. Something was missing, but what was it? Suddenly, I realized my bicycle was gone. I shot out of bed and dashed into the living room. There it was: parked next to the couch, right where it shouldn’t have been. My mind raced as I silently contemplated whether I could have hopped on my bicycle in my skimpy nightclothes, ridden around the block, and ended up at the twenty-four-hour gas station down the street where I muttered “Take me to your leader” to a very frightened night clerk.
To this day, I have been known to wander out of the bedroom in the dark of the night and have meaningful conversations with my teenagers—who apparently mimic the same sleep patterns as bats—about the cell phone bill, the price of potatoes, and all the reasons why the bathtub doesn’t drain as fast as I’d like.
Scientists have been perplexed about the causes of this type of questionable nocturnal behavior since the first caveman was found at 3:00 a.m., curled up under a tree mumbling something about hieroglyphics, three miles away from his wife with no recollection how he got there. After years of research, scientists have come to one very vague conclusion: sometimes in the middle of the night, the brain acts like a rebellious teenager and whispers to muscles, who really have to do all the work and never get to have any fun, to wake up, sneak out, and do something crazy.
Either way, consider this post fair warning. One day, if you happen upon a headline in the newspaper that states: Sleepwalker found three hundred miles from home eating a Grand Slam® breakfast at Denny’s, don’t worry. It’s probably not me. Chances are, I’m probably stuck in the gas station parking lot trying to figure out how to untangle my nightgown from the bicycle chain.
By Vicky DeCoster: All Rights Reserved