Did you know that you can pee while sleepwalking?

True story: When I was younger, I used to sleepwalk a fair bit and mumble Mandarin in my sleep (which is weird given I’m a kantang).

In one disgusting incident, I sleepwalked into someone’s room, peed on them, and then went right back to bed. Needless to say, that person wasn’t too happy and I had a lot of cleaning up to do the next day (even though it wasn’t really my fault, I didn’t know what I was doing!).

Fortunately I grew out of it, as most sleepwalking children outgrow this phase by their teenage years.

The scientific name for sleepwalking is somnambulism, and it’s more common to see sleepwalking children than sleepwalking adults. Sleepwalkers are usually in the deep stages of sleep, which is why it may be difficult to wake them up and they’re not likely to remember what happened (like how I didn’t remember peeing).

Sleepwalking doesn’t just involve walking – some sleepwalkers can even drive for long distances while sleeping. In fact, sleepwalkers can perform many complex tasks while they’re asleep. While the cause of sleepwalking ranges from fatigue to certain types of medication, there are some myths about sleepwalking that we all need to debunk right now.

Why? Because it can be dangerous to believe these myths about sleepwalking. Myths such as:

1. You should never wake a sleepwalker

Danger! Credit: Dream Dictionary

Danger! Credit: Dream Dictionary

If a sleepwalker is about to walk off a ledge, are you going to let him or her do it? Of course not! You have to stop the poor person, and that sometimes means having to rouse that person awake.

However, it may be difficult to wake a sleepwalker and they may be in an agitated state when they wake up (it’s a rude shock to be woken up and discovering you’re not in your bed, after all). So if the sleepwalker is not in any immediate danger, the best thing to do is to guide them back to bed without waking them up.

But please, if you see that they’re about to pee on you, wake them up or get out of the way.

 

2. Sleepwalkers always have their eyes closed

A sleepwalker. Credit: HealthResource4u.com

A sleepwalker. Credit: HealthResource4u.com

On screen, you always see sleepwalkers walking around like zombies with their eyes closed – their arms outstretched as they shamble everywhere. Unfortunately, that’s not true of all sleepwalkers.

Some sleepwalkers have their eyes open (which is how they can drive long distances). They may look glassy and dazed, but they can still literally see things in front of them. It’s just that their brains are asleep, so they’re not consciously looking.

So when you see that sleepy family member walking around aimlessly in the middle of the night, he or she may very well be sleepwalking.

 

3. There are no ways to prevent sleepwalking

Where am I? Credit: Pixabay

Where am I? Credit: Pixabay

Although most kids tend to grow out of sleepwalking, the fact is that there are ways to minimise your chances of sleepwalking.

The most important thing is to make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep. That means a dark, quiet room (and no bright mobile phones around), not eating heavy or spicy food too close to bed time, and avoiding alcohol.

Yes, those nightcaps may very well be causing sleepwalking.

 

4. Sleepwalking has no effect on the rest of your day

Not a good sign. Credit: Medical News Today

Not a good sign. Credit: Medical News Today

Sleep isn’t just for our minds to rest – it’s for our bodies to recuperate as well. So if your body is walking around doing random things while your mind is asleep, that’s not going to be too restful. In other words, it affects the quality of your sleep.

That means that sleepwalkers are usually more tired in the day. They may not realise why, because it seems like they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep. But all that sleepwalking is exercise, and you shouldn’t exercise when you’re sleeping.

5. Sleepwalking cannot be used as a legal defense 

Legally speaking. Credit: Pixabay

Legally speaking. Credit: Pixabay

In some very unfortunate cases, sleepwalkers have been known to kill, such as a 1987 case in Canada. Ken Parks, while sleepwalking, drove to his in-laws’ house and killed his mother-in-law. He was later tried and acquitted with the sleepwalking defense.

More recently, a 2009 case in the UK saw Brian Thomas strangling his wife to death while sleepwalking, whilst in the throes of a nightmare about an intruder. A doctor was called in to assess Brian Thomas’ sleep patterns, and ascertain whether he was sleepwalking when the terrible incident occured.

He was eventually cleared of the charges and released from court.

While we are certainly not advocating you use sleepwalking as a reason to commit crimes, the fact is that it can be used as a valid reason to acquit someone of a criminal act. And in Brian Thomas’ case, the judge even realised that he was probably “feeling a sense of guilt” from the whole incident, which likely contributed to his acquittal.

 

The Promise. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

The Promise. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

But what if there were more… sinister reasons behind a sleepwalker’s actions? In Thai horror film The Promise, a mother finds her daughter sleepwalking every night after visiting an abandoned bell tower. Her daughter isn’t just sleepwalking – she’s sleeptalking too, and her words are hauntingly familiar. In fact, the mother’s long-dead best friend used to say the same exact words as her daughter.

“Promise me you won’t leave me…”

What was The Promise that the mother made?

 

Credits: Giphy, Pixabay, HealthResource4U, Dream Dictionary, Medical News Today, Golden Village Cinemas