The Virtues of Sleepwalking

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I started sleepwalking in my early twenties. Prior to that, I don’t recall any heavy sleep disturbances, though I was a night owl and when I lived at Casa de la Crisis (aka Greenwalls) in Berkeley I generally went to bed at 10 AM and got up at 5-6 PM, and then only because my roommates would bang on my door to let me know I was missing dinner. Those were interesting times.

What changed? Well, when I was 21 I went to work for a game startup.

Yyyyup. That pretty much sums it up.

Also, I started working a night shift because I thought I was a night owl and that caused all sorts of interesting complications. To whit: my period stopped, I gained about seventy pounds (with associated ramifications: sleep apnea, sore knees, low energy), and I started to have waking nightmares. Also, sleepwalking.

Shift work: it’s a hell of a drug.

Obviously my period came back (though there was a point where my doctor point blank informed me I was probably infertile — ha ha! showed you!), and I lost a lot of the weight, but the waking nightmares stuck around. And so did the sleepwalking.

Sometimes it happens when I’m stressed. Sometimes it happens because I was reading a really good book before bed. After my home in Missouri was broken into, I did it every night — sometimes multiple times — for nearly a year. And it’s not always a gentle, I’m-walking-into-the-kitchen-to-eat-processed-cheese sleepwalking. This is jumping-out-of-bed and screaming-like-my-head-is-on-fire sleepwalking. I have woken up to find my hand on the front door to my house, trying to escape…I don’t know what.

It’s calmed down over the years. The last really active period was when we were living at Montalvo in San Clemente and I would walk our of my room, down the hall, into Mike’s bedroom and proceed to assure him I was awake. He would lead me back to my bedroom, tuck me into bed, and in the morning I’d be all, “Did I try to tell you I was awake?” And he’d say, “Yup.” And I’d say, “I lied.” And he’d say, “I know, baby. I know.”

My dad sleepwalks. Mom has great stories about waking up to him standing on the bed with a sheet wrapped around him like a toga. My sister sleepwalks. When she was pregnant, she’d wake up with glasses of orange juice in her hand. Apparently my nephew sleepwalks. So this is a hereditary thing. I suspect my brain just fails to shut down appropriately. It’s always in the first two hours, and it’s usually after I’ve been thinking hard on something.

So what’s the virtue in all this? Simple: I have, over the years, developed a knack for going back to sleep when my brain or body decides to interrupt my snoozefest by making me get up to investigate the ninjas coming through the wall. Despite the fact that over the last three months I have been getting up at least once or twice a night to pee, I have now boiled it down into what is essentially…peewalking. I wake up, I get to the bathroom, I pee, I go back to bed, and between the time my body sent the signal and the time my head hits the pillows, I’ve had a less than two minute interruption. I’m back to sleep almost instantly.

I suspect this is kinda important.

I really suspect this is going to come in handy when we have an infant demanding boobtime at all hours in the next month or so. Get baby. Apply baby to boob. Go back to sleep.

Or I am completely deluding myself! I am aware that this is very possible.

Oh well. That’s why I’m taking all this time off from work. To recover when I completely underestimate the rigors of motherhood.