Sleep­walk­ing in St. John’s


I have an in­sa­tiable de­sire for knowl­edge. Some of my ques­tions are along the lines of, to cite the ti­tle of a book in my per­sonal li­brary, Why Can’t You Tickle Your­self ? And Other Bod­ily Cu­riosi­ties.

I’m mes­mer­ized by ques­tions per­tain­ing to, among other bod­ily func­tions, blink­ing, cough­ing, dizzi­ness, ears pop­ping, frown­ing, funny bone, go­ing to sleep in hands and feet, hic­cough­ing, ice cream headaches, itch­ing, laugh­ing, sneez­ing, snor­ing, stom­ach rum­bling, tick­ling your­self, wrin­kling, yawn­ing ... Well, you get the idea. Why do we do the things we do? En­quir­ing minds want to know. On the other hand, per­haps I sim­ply have way too much time on my hands. Specif­i­cally, I of­ten won­der about sleep­walk­ing. I have an in­tel­lec­tual cu­rios­ity, but also a vested in­ter­est. I need to know why a per­son walks in his sleep.

In­tel­lec­tu­ally, I now know what sleep­walk­ing is. Som­nam­bu­lism is a sleep dis­or­der. I also know that sleep­walk­ers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a state of low con­scious­ness and per­form ac­tiv­i­ties that are usu­ally per­formed dur­ing a state of full con­scious­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to a bit of In­ter­net re­search I did, many sleep­walk­ers do noth­ing more se­ri­ous than sit up in bed and stare glass­ily into space for a few sec­onds, while oth­ers may walk around for up to half an hour. How­ever, I learned that sleep­walk­ing ac­tiv­i­ties can be as haz­ardous as cook­ing, driv­ing, ex­tremely vi­o­lent ges­tures, grab­bing at hal­lu­ci­nated ob­jects, and homi­cide. Yes, you read cor­rectly, homi­cide.

Af­ter Sherry and I mar­ried, I de­cided against telling her that I am given to sleep­walk­ing. I shared with her many of my id­iosyn­cra­cies, but I thought it best for her to learn about this one all on her own. As most of my sleep­walk­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to date had been fairly mild, I re­ally didn’t feel the need to fill her in on the de­tails. If and when I took a leisurely trek in my sleep, it was for a brief stint, af­ter which I awoke and re­turned to bed.

At the time, we lived in a two-storey town­house in St. John’s. One morn­ing, fol­low­ing a sleep­walk­ing in­ci­dent the night be­fore, I gath­ered all the ev­i­dence as best I could, even­tu­ally piec­ing to­gether what had ac­tu­ally hap­pened. It was not a pretty pic­ture.

Our bed­room was on the sec­ond floor. I got out of bed and, in the dark, walked across the room and turned the door han­dle. Ma­neu­ver­ing the land­ing, I stum­bled down­stairs.

The front door lead­ing out­side was di­rectly ahead of me. If I took a right turn, I would be in the hall­way, lead­ing to the kitchen, liv­ing room, and base­ment door.

Whether or not I stood at the bot­tom of the stairs and de­lib­er­ated about which direc­tion to take, I will never know. How­ever, I do know what I did next.

Leav­ing the last step, I walked the half dozen feet to the front door. I reached out and grasped the door­knob. The sud­den stab of cold must have been the awak­en­ing fac­tor, be­cause when I roused from my stupour, I was stand­ing still, grip­ping the han­dle. At least I had my briefs on.

It took a few mo­ments for me to re­al­ize where I was and what I had done. Then, smil­ing be­nignly, I wended my way back up­stairs and re­joined my wife who was ly­ing in state, sleep­ing serenely. She had slept through it all, none the wiser.

The next day, I re­galed Sherry with my sleep­walk­ing ad­ven­ture. The prac­ti­cal one in our re­la­tion­ship, she pro­ceeded to put for­ward a rather un­set­tling sce­nario. Now, a smile spread across her face. “ What’s so funny?” I asked. “I can see the news­pa­per ar­ti­cle now, along with your pic­ture. The caption would prob­a­bly read, ‘Lo­cal min­is­ter sleep­walk­ing in briefs near Avalon Mall.’”

By the way, there was one other sleep­walk­ing in­ci­dent which Sherry did not sleep through. I rose up in bed, turned to­ward the head­board, and bowed down in hum­ble obei­sance. “Pray­ing to the head­board, are you?” she asked with a chuckle be­fore she turned over and went back to sleep. But that’s a story for an­other day.

To my credit, I’ve never com­mit­ted homi­cide in my sleep … as far as I know.

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