Sleepwalking

-“Doctor…I sleep with only one eye closed—my son sleepwalks.”

Brenda X. is a pleasant lady in her thirties that has been babysitting her son aged seven years since he was three years old because he has a special clinical condition that can expose him to harm. She is always on the watch because he has frequent bouts of somnambulism and she dutifully escorts him around during his nightly forays.

When we were a little child, we often sat up suddenly in bed and walked to the living room of our apartment in Montevideo to sit down and chat; sporting a glazed over look, we were tagged by our dear father Mario who kept watch: he never tried to “wake us up”, a bad idea according to Dr. Penco, our great pediatrician. He reassured our parents that usually those episodes disappear as children grow up;  in fact, after peaking at 3- 4 years old, this activity started to wane and then stopped. We never had any more episodes nor any recollections of  them.

The sleep walking episodes occur during the initial or Non-REM phase of sleep in the initial third phase of the cycle when slow activity predominates. Sleepwalking is more common in children and its prevalence can reach up to 10% of the population; it can be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. Patients with sleepwalking have a rise of brief arousals in the EEG tracing.

Sigmund Freud said that the unconscious sexual desires of the “Id” are usually repressed by the “Super Ego” during the waking period but when the conscience dims down, they surface to take control of the person’s volition. Those impulses metamorphose into dreams and in certain cases into motor impulses that can prod the individual to walk and talk. Sleepwalking has been adduced to be an attenuating factor in many crimes by the defense attorneys. It could be a trait in persons with agitated legacies like being born in the convulsed Celtic festivity of Samhein.

The above article was originally written in May 2017 for the series Emotional Frustration, which constituted the scaffolding for our homonymous book. As many years have passed since we presumably had one incident of sleepwalking, we thought that were totally. However, during the Social Distancing imposed by the pandemic, my son Gian Luca and I shared the same apartment for six months. He told us that once or twice, he would come in in the wee hours when I was asleep but that I would sit up on my bed to chat wide-eyed with him several minutes about where they had gone, what they had eaten, etc. Then I would immediately go back to resume my sleep. The following day, I would greet him when he was waking up and asked how the outing was.  He looked at me blankly.

-“Dad, we talked all about it last night…Can’t you remember?” he said, a little exasperated.

-“Talked with me? No…After going to bed early last night, I slept the whole night like a baby.”

Mmm…it seems that our nightly adventures might still be far from over…

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.