Active Sleeping

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Over the last week or so, I've been fascinated learning about sleep, dreaming, and disorders of sleep in chapter five of our textbooks. Perhaps I find this topic so intriguing because I come from what I consider a family of very "active" sleepers. My father has snored with a decibel level comparable to a freight train for as long as I can remember. He would also twitch and snort himself out of a sound sleep, which we found out later is due to sleep apnea. My sister is known to talk and walk in her sleep. She's recited school presentations, pulled all the bedding off of her bed and dragged it downstairs to sleep on the couch, and my personal favorite, "rock climbed" over the footboard of her bed. My mother sort of hits the opposite end of the spectrum; she is a very light sleeper. She even claims she woke up one night because she felt our dog standing by her bed staring at her. My sleeping habits are slightly less exciting in comparison. I'm told I do talk in my sleep quite frequently. I'm not so sure I want to know what I say...
With my family's sleep history in mind, the section of the book about sleepwalking caught my attention. The book states that sleepwalkers have been known to drive cars, turn on computers, or even have sexual intercourse while asleep. Even more than that, a few people have actually used sleepwalking as a legal defense for committing murder. For example, the book mentions a case in which a young man drove almost 20 miles, removed a tire iron from a car, and killed his mother-in-law and seriously injured his father-in-law with a knife. In a controversial decision, the man was declared innocent because he maintained that he slept through the whole event and was not responsible for his behavior.
Although I'm very familiar with strange events happening throughout the night that we maintain no recollection of in the morning, this information was hard for me to wrap my head around. It makes me wonder how it's possible for us to commit horrifying acts that would seemingly require much thought and planning, all while still unconscious. What allows us to completely block out these events? And furthermore, what do these acts say about us as people?


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I really enjoyed this post because I like how you incorporated your life and family into the category of sleep-walking. What I found most interesting was also the part in the book where it says that the man drove out of his way and murdered his mother-in-law, and then got off the hook because sleep-walking played a major role in his crime! Personally, I have never experienced sleep-walking myself, but also find it a fascinating topic of discussion so thanks!

You pose the idea that "active sleeping" could be a genetic factor. But like everything, I think it could be a little bit of nurture thrown in as well. Other causes could be stress and anxiety. In my brother's case, he always will sleep talk or walk when he goes to bed really late or if it's finals week.

This is really interesting to think about. It's weird to think about what you can possibly do while you are asleep. But to a certain extent i think that some of the stories of people sleep driving, then killing someone is a little bit of a stretch.

I found this post really interesting because I have been told that on vacations, my brother and I will carry on conversations while sleeping in the same room! In regards to the people getting away with crimes while sleeping, I have wondered how you are not legally responsible for your actions while sleeping. I just doesn't make sense to me. Overall, good post.

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This page contains a single entry by goro0014 published on February 19, 2012 7:27 PM.

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