8, July 2011
You have to admit, they are kind of similar: Mindless bodies roaming the halls at nighttime, with no awareness of their actions. So maybe your spouse doesn’t have an insatiable appetite for brains and human flesh, but it IS possible that he or she will walk into the kitchen and unknowingly prepare a sandwich.
Sleepwalking, or Somnambulism (not to be confused with Solanum virus, which is what turns people into Zombies), is a sleep disorder which causes people to get up and walk during the deep stages of sleep. The sleepwalker is usually unable to respond during the event and also does not remember the incident later.
It is estimated that 18% of people suffer from reoccurring somnambulism, and the condition is more common in men than women.
Unlike their zombie friends, sleepwalkers have a heightened sense of balance and touch that actually enables them to do things in their sleep that they might not even attempt in their waking world. Because they do not have a waking awareness of the situation, they may also show unusual courage.
A famous 1987 murder trial involved a Canadian man named Kenneth Parks, who drove 14 miles to his in-laws’ house, strangled his father-in-law until the man passed out, beat his mother-in-law with a tire iron and then stabbed them both with a kitchen knife. The woman died; the man barely survived. Parks then arrived at a police station. Police said he seemed confused about what had transpired, and they noted that Parks appeared oblivious to the fact that he'd severed tendons in both his hands during the attack. That obliviousness to pain, along with other factors, including a strong family history of parasomnia, led experts to testify that Parks had been sleepwalking during the attack. He was found not guilty.
There are many theorized causes and suggested remedies for sleepwalking (the prognosis is far more grim for zombies). A Canadian sleep studied determined that when sleep deprived, sleep walkers are more likely to sleepwalk. Experts suggest that reducing stress and making sure to get enough sleep can help reduce incidents of Somnambulism. It is also recommended that sufferers avoid sedative agents, such as alcohol, as these can trigger sleepwalking events.
So next time your partner takes a nighttime stroll, don’t cry zombie. You are most likely safe. But, just in case, keep your Mediflow pillow as close as possible – zombies HATE water.