Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Weird World of Sleep-misbehaviour

Note: We are having our new (and hopefully better) mattress delivered today, just in time. I thought you would love this article written by Matthew Pink about bizarre sleep behavior. It made me laugh.

There are a few things which happen as the numbers of miles on your body clock tick on.
Some things you have always needed, wanted, done anything for - now slip away into the shadows of unimportance. It's hard to explain.
Some things you never even dreamed of being interested in, having a taste for, or desiring - suddenly start to call to you like the sirens on the rocks. It's equally hard to explain. One thing that does seem to ebb away as the years tot up - is a need for long periods of shuteye.There seems to be a direct reverse correlation with age. We can all remember being a teen and being happy if we slept through until the early 'noon, shutting ourselves away in the daily hibernation and hormone-driven rituals of our adolescence. But not so later in life. Forty winks is quite sufficient thank you very much.
Funnily enough, sleep disorders are actually less common as you get older too, in the main that is, although of course there are some amusing exceptions to this. In a case documented by the University of California's Medical Department, one man in his late 70s was found to have quite astounding abilities in his sleep.'Abnormal behaviour' while asleep is known as parasomnia but this particular guy's story borders on the paranormal.

Harry Rosenthal is a serial somnambulist who claims to have been sleepwalking his way into strange situations since he was three years old. A journalist by trade, Harry enjoyed a fairly illustrious career covering some huge stories of national and international importance but acquired something of an infamous reputation among his colleagues for his night-time activities (and not the kind of nocturnal activities journalists are usually famed for).

One night Harry's wife awoke to find Harry, a classical music fanatic but not a great player of any instrument, sitting bolt upright in bed and conducting a full orchestra full bore. On top of his admirable ambition to manage and lead the playing of thirty to forty different non-existent instruments, Harry was also making the noise which defined each individual instrument.
Harry's wife did as any caring spouse would do - and got the kids in and filmed it.

Parasomnias are far more common in younger people however and boy, can people get up to some pretty weird stuff while asleep. Way back in 2005 a young London girl sleepwalked her way to a seat on a construction crane where she promptly nestled down for the evening to be awoken by the workmen when they arrived for their morning shift. You can imagine their surprise. (And the color of their language).

Another equally bizarre story from England (hmmm, maybe it's to do with their mattressesor something) involved a man with no discernible artistic talent whatsoever who just happened to be able to sketch minor-masterpieces in his sleep. These pictures are now collectors' items among those fascinated by sleep and hypnosis and what the human body is capable of while under those conditions.

Then there are of course the more common parasomnias like talking, grinding of the teeth and walking. Some have even used their propensity to sleep-eat as a get-out clause for breaking a strict dieting regime. (Suspicious!) Some have even used it as an excuse for a bit of sleep-adultery. (Doubly suspicious!) 

In a particularly bizarre case in India back in 2006, one unfortunate couple had to file for divorce because the husband, far far away in the land of nod, uttered the word 'talaq' three times in succession. His wife heard it and made the mistake of discussing it publically. When this story reached the local Muslim leaders, they quoted the Shariat to the beleaguered couple and warned them that they would become outcasts if they did not obey the Sharia law and separate.

Nowadays of course, with the proliferation of technology at our fingertips, the internet and its 24/7 schedule and the fact that so many of us are as now accustomed to tapping away on our keyboards, means that new sleep-activity dangers are rife. It is becoming increasingly common for people to pick up the phone resting on their bedside table and dash off a few surreally accurate messages, just as it is for sleep-walkers to get up to their PC and tap away an email in the early hours with no recollection of sending it or writing it.

So, you may want reconsider leaving that flashing LED on in the corner of your room and go tuck them away somewhere where your sleeping self cannot find them and undo decades of hard work establishing friendships.

Sweet dreams.

About the author:
Matthew Pink is a writer and editor working in digital publishing covering travel and culture. Originally from the Lake District in northwestern England, he also writes crime fiction which is set there. Scafell is his first novel.
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