Somnambulism – A sleep disorder where you perform or carry out normal activities in a “slow wave”, a state of very low consciousness. Some examples of such activities are sitting up in bed, walking, cleaning or more dangerously, driving.
Somniloquy – Making sounds while sleeping, ranging from simple sounds like talking to long speeches.
Hello, my name is Mya Williams and I am a sleep walker/talker!
Years ago, when my sister and I were still in secondary school and living at home, my dad would get up randomly in the middle of the night to double check the doors and do a quick security sweep of the house. One morning he shared with us what he encountered during his random check. As he came out of his room at 3am in the morning, he met my sister in the living room upstairs just walking aimlessly. He was about to say something to her about why she was up so late, until he looked closer and realized she was in a trance-like state; her eyes were open but she wasn’t looking at him and also wasn’t conscious. He just stood observing her navigate her way around the living room (without bumping into anything) for a few minutes and after a short while, she went back into her room and into her bed. He followed her into the room to make sure she was alright and before he even made it to her room, she was fast asleep. A few days later, I had to share a room with her to accommodate our friends for a sleep over and throughout the night, my sister talked sporadically; many times I would jump up to ask her what she said so I could respond. It was after a few instances I realised she wasn’t talking to me; she was just rambling and when I listened carefully, she wasn’t making sense. For years, we all made fun of her and teased her that she better not be divulging her secrets in her sleep.
Fast forward to a few years later in Uni, my friend came to spend the weekend with me and when she was leaving, she told me I did some “strange” things in the middle of the night and that she hopes everything is okay. She said I would get up from the bed and sometimes dance or move about sporadically; or that I’d be saying something albeit incoherently and when she tries to talk to me I won’t answer her; or I’d just suddenly grab the duvet and throw it on the floor or just get up and walk about. You can imagine my shock, I was like ha?! Once my friend left, I immediately called another friend who I go to see during the weekends to confirm this. She said “ah it’s true oh, haven’t you noticed I haven’t invited you over since?” I couldn’t help but laugh! Turns out, my sister and I were not different after all, my own just manifested a few years later; it was finally time for my sister to get back at me for teasing her all those years. She would say – “at least me I don’t dance”. Once I realised that I was a confirmed sleep walker and talker, I became a bit self conscious; I worried about friends coming to sleep over and going over to sleep at friends’ houses because I felt exposed. I wondered if they would think I was weird or if they’d think it was fetish; you know when you’re not familiar with something, you can imagine it is something else.
More recently, I have noticed I would sometimes wake up mid-activity and think to myself, what the hell was I just doing then I’d climb back into bed. One night, I was fully dressed complete with shoes, with my hand on the door handle, when I regained consciousness; I was so baffled, I was like “ki le leyi nitori Olorun” – what is this for God’s sake.
I remember when I just got married, a few months after the wedding, my husband called my mum that he wants to talk to her about something, he went on to regale her about tales of my “strange” nightly behaviour; before he could even finish the first sentence my mom burst out laughing. She then went on to put his mind at ease and explained the situation and encouraged him to read about it. When he came home he said he thought there was something really wrong. I laughed really hard because that was exactly what happened with my sister and her husband.
Now, I’m less conscious because it’s been a couple of years and the important parties such as close friends, husband and family are well informed and know to completely ignore or even slap me awake when I start. So if you have a friend, husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, sibling or child that exhibits similar “strange” nightly behaviour, don’t be alarmed, he or she is just a fellow sleep walker or sleep talker.
Photo Credit: hsph.harvard.edu
Mya Williams is a fiercely passionate and fun loving rebel/ nonconformist. She loves to write in her free time. She emphatically believes that certain societal customs and norms must be challenged if one is to have a fulfilled and happy life.