View Full Version : Do you sleep walk or have insomnia?

07-26-2005, 09:52 PM
In short, what is it like to sleep walk or have insomnia?

I am writing a novel and I have a character who started to sleepwalk as a young teen. I did some research and found it is common in early adolescence but usually goes away as the person ages. It can be aggravated by alcohol abuse and such, thus lasting longer(which she does). What I want to know is what it is like, as it is not something I have experienced.

Also, this same girl, had/has insomnia of sorts. Her father works nights, and she learned to wait up for him before she could sleep. Now she is 17 or so and the waiting has become habit. It is part of the plot that when she does sleep her dreams are actually vivid visions with information she needs, she just hasn't caught on yet that what she is seeing is real. And since she is forcing herself to stay awake, it takes longer to catch on. She stays up reading until she hears his car in the early a.m. then sleeps, book open, light on, for a couple hours before going to school. She then catnaps in the afternoons. Occasionally the lack of sleep catches up with her, and this is when she really gets into these vivid dreams. I've had bouts where I have trouble sleeping, but never insomnia, so some feed back on that would be nice, too.

you can just post answers in the forum, and i really appreciate your feedback. :Hail:

07-26-2005, 09:58 PM
I didn't have insomnia, but I did sleepwalk as a child (and into college a little, too.) I never new I sleepwalked unless I either finished the night elsewhere (like on my floor,) woke up with different clothes on (or naked,) or someone woke me up. Otherwise, I was pretty clueless to my sleepwalking. I was very nervous about it when I got older and slept at other people's houses. I was afraid I would sleepwalk. And, I did - once, that I know of.

07-26-2005, 10:43 PM
I have a sleepwalker, but she started younger. . .6 or 7 if memory serves me right. My husband worked odd hours (on call 7 days per week) so was working many nights when she went to bed, but came home in the middle of the night, so was there when she woke.

She would only sleepwalk when she was worried about something. She wouldn't talk about it, but I always knew to figure out what was wrong when she did this. Usually things like an upcoming dental appointment or school starting for the new year. . .things kids stress about. The other thing that would bring it on was watching a movie that had something scarey (to her) in it. One was a Disney movie that had a scene of fire in it. I finally realized it happened every time she watched that particular movie. A kids movie and seemed harmless to me, but it put something in her mind that connected with her Dad and work. She would yell and cry in the middle of the night and all I could tell was she was trying to get to her Dad and the fire was between them.

They may get out of bed and wander around the house & talk to you about stuff that doesn't make sense. . . .like "I've got to go feed the horse." I found its best not to wake them, just go along with what they are saying (except the frightening episodes). I'd say something like "Oh I fed him for you, don't you remember?" and she'd go back to bed and back to sleep. The frightening episodes, I would just sit and hold her until she woke. If her Dad was home, he could hold her and as soon as it registered he was okay, she'd go back to sleep.

She only tried to get out the door once, but I always got up and walked around the house with her until I could talk her into going back to bed. Sometimes she would come to herself as soon as she laid back down. Other times she would go back to bed and never realize she had been sleepwalking.

07-27-2005, 07:01 AM
I was a sleepwalker until mid life. I didn't stop until I hit 40 years old. For me, sleepwalking was like an out of body experience. I knew what I was doing and saying but it was like watching someone else. I had no control at all and most of the time I would feel wide awake.

My life was a lot like the character in your book. My father worked evenings and wouldn't get home until around one thirty in the morning. I always read until I heard his car pull into the driveway and I knew he was safe. Then I married an Air Force pilot and adopted the same routine on nights that he would be flying which was at least 3 nights a week most of the time.

It's been years since I have gone to sleep before two in the morning and I am normally awake by six o'clock. About twice a month I will have to give into the fatigue and can sleep for 12 to 14 hours at a time. That is the only time I dream, or the only time I have dreams that I remember anyway. I think it's because that is really the only time that I go into what would be described as a fully sleeping state. It's no fun because I live with this low grade feeling of exhaustion but it's hard to recondition sleeping patterns after so many years.

Good luck with the book, sounds interesting.

07-27-2005, 04:42 PM
I sleep walked when I was younger, I only know this because I woke up in odd locations around the house. I woke up sitting on the toilet once, another time, after dreaming about choosing my wardrobe for the day, I woke up in the doorway of my closet.

Kathie Freeman
07-28-2005, 08:03 PM
I am 57 years old and have been sleepwalking since I was 6 or 7, but I haven't done it in about 5 years. I never did it very often, maybe once every couple of years. For me it's always in conjunction with a dream. I would wake up out of bed, or sometimes just sitting up. One time I woke my husband in the middle of the night to tell him a mountain goat was scratching a hole in the roof. Another time I was sleeping in a converted living room and the bed was against what had been the front door, and I woke up trying to open the door.

I have a younger brother who used to walk and talk in his sleep, maybe still does. His brothers learned very quickly that when he started talking in his sleep they could ask him questions and he would answer, always truthfully. They found out a lot of his secrets that way. The odd thing was that he never woke up, and never remembered in the morning. Once he tried to walk out the front door, and it took some serious maneuvering to get him back into bed. Another brother sleepwalked when we were camping in Yosemite. He and a third brother were sleeping "under the stars" outside the tent and he only woke up when he fell in the icy creek near the campground. Otherwise, who knows where he would have ended up.

07-28-2005, 10:59 PM
Both of my sons started sleep walking around age 6 and stopped around age 12. Neither of them remembers the sleepwalking regardless of what they might have done and said while doing it.

Generally, they would come downstairs and either stand there in front of us and say nothing or wander as if looking for something. They looked sleepy but awake.

By the way, you can't reason with a sleep-walker. It only causes agitation. What we found worked best was to gently guide them back to bed without saying anything at all. A few times while doing this they got agitated and I said in a firm voice, "it's time to go to bed" and then continued to guide them. It worked.

We never really worried too much about it, in fact it can be quite comical. But then one of our sons came downstairs as if on a mission and unlocked the front door and then proceeded to go out on the porch. I don't know where he might have gone but it made me realize that it can be very serious. I've read about people getting hit by a car while walking down the street. Yikes!


07-29-2005, 12:19 AM
By the way, you can't reason with a sleep-walker. It only causes agitation. What we found worked best was to gently guide them back to bed without saying anything at all. A few times while doing this they got agitated and I said in a firm voice, "it's time to go to bed" and then continued to guide them. It worked.

Lavinia, I have an idea for a scene where she is walking around looking for her husband (this will be in a second or third book) and he starts to guide her to the bed and she says "You're not Sean," and he says "No, Sean sent me to get you." ANd she follows him.

Does that sound believable?

THanks again to all of you. Keep 'em comin'. I love this place.

07-29-2005, 01:16 AM
There are different varieties of insomnia. Physiologically, the problem is that your heart and breathing rate are too high for you to enter the first stage of sleep. This is generally because you are excited or nervous about something. It may be something that has just happened (had a fight, met someone interesting), something that you are expecting to happen soon (christmas morning, new job, travelling an anticipated bad dream), something you have an inspiration about (story idea!), or your physical or social situation (unfamiliar bed/room, debt, being bullied, paranoia). In addition to psychological factors, there may also be physiological factors like caffine, stomach problems, difficulty breathing, allergies, sound/light pollution, bad bed, poor circulation, etc.

Your circadian rhythm (among other things) describes what times of the day your heart rate is higher or lower. Me personally, I am the most awake from 1-4PM and 10PM-1AM, so I can't fall asleep at those times unless I'm exhausted. That's when I get all my work done. On the other hand I am least awake at dawn and dusk, and have great difficulty waking up or staying awake then. Made highschool miserable because I always had to force myself into bed at night and drag myself out of it in the morning, but I felt great when I was working second shift. So I have zone insomnia, the inability to sleep at certain times, rather than habitual insomnia where someone always has trouble going to sleep.

07-29-2005, 01:16 AM
I remember waking up in college once, arguing in my sleep. My roommate was looking at me so funny, and I felt cranky. She asked me if I had any idea what I was just saying. (nope!) I guess I was insisting she hang the square wreath on the wall. (huh?)

When my kids have sleepwalked or talked, they usually sound rather drunk - slurred speech and all. I can see how someone might think a sleepwalker is drunk. Would that figure in to your piece?

Kathie Freeman
07-29-2005, 01:23 AM
Since I posted this a.m. I have heard from my older sister and she says she also sleepwalked. I know that when I woke from an episode I would be confused and disoriented, unable to find my way back to bed. As a child I would waken the next morning with my head at the foot of the bed and my feet on the pilow and a very annoyed sister next to me (we shared a bed at the time). As an adult, I once gave up and curled up on the floor and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. When I woke the next time, I knew where I was and got back in bed.

07-29-2005, 02:00 AM
When I was in school, I once woke up and was shocked to find that I was not in my bed, but in the study reaching for a book. I woke up just as I was reaching for the book, so it was pretty bizzare.

07-29-2005, 03:15 AM
Lavinia, I have an idea for a scene where she is walking around looking for her husband (this will be in a second or third book) and he starts to guide her to the bed and she says "You're not Sean," and he says "No, Sean sent me to get you." ANd she follows him.

Does that sound believable?

THanks again to all of you. Keep 'em comin'. I love this place.

Going on the way my daughter was when she was sleepwalking it would seem more believeable to me for your sleepwalker to say something like
"Where's Sean? Sean?" (like she isn't really "seeing" whomever she is speaking to) "I need to find Sean."
or simply mumble his name over and over like she is looking for him. . .
"Sean? Sean?" (still sounding as if she doesn't see anyone). She might even be saying "Sean? Sean?" frantically, in search of him.

When she says "You're not Sean", it just sounds a little off kilter to me for a sleepwalker.

My daughter, when looking for her Dad, would not even realize he was holding her part of the time. She would yell "I want my Daddy. Daddy.. . Daddy Daddy", over and over. All the while he might be holding her, talking to her, telling her "Daddy's here",but it just took a while for it to sink into her mind. She would never say anything like "You're not Daddy", rather she would just keep looking and calling for Daddy until in some little corner of her mind she would recognize that he was there, then she would quiet down and sleep (usually without ever waking) and not remember the following morning.

07-29-2005, 05:03 AM
I did some sleepwalking as a child. So did my parents, as adults. A person sleepwalking is in a dissociative state, similar to out-of-body experiences and hypnotic trances (i.e., your mind is on something other than external reality). A tendency to sleepwalk runs in families. A tendency toward dissociation may do the same, but I don't know.

Avoid the cartoon stereotype of the sleepwalker with eyes closed and arms extended forward. It isn't realistic.

Maybe the National Institutes of Health website says something about it.

07-30-2005, 01:30 AM
Thanks so much, again. This is me, ever grateful. This story is so close to my heart. Kudos to Sunshadow for the only post dedicated to just insomnia info, which is so perfect to go with her habits. And Fern, thanks for the feedback, I will do that. And Reph, i will check out the site. Thanks to all of you sooo much. I'm goin to dedicate my novel to you guys. :Clap:

08-03-2005, 04:34 AM
I'm an insomniac. Part of it is the caffiene I ingest all day to stay awake because I couldn't sleep the night before. Part of it is allergies. Part of it is knowing I will have a terrible time waking up (and sometimes won't), and so I get anxious about it and can't sleep.

I have had conversations in person and on the phone when I was full asleep and have no recollection of them at all. I have two alarm clocks, both of them across the room so I have to physically get out of bed to shut them off. Otherwise, I'd hit the snooze without being fully conscious and I'd never know it.

Part of it is also this weird thing with my ankles...some nights they will kick and twitch uncontrollably, jarring me out of the almost-asleep state. My doctor says "oh, it's nothing to worry about," but he isn't running on 3 or 4 hours of sleep at best most nights. After kicking without control for twenty minutes, I'm so angry there's no way I'm falling asleep.

My husband says some nights I sleep on my back with one foot flat on the bed and that leg raised. The other leg will be crossed with the foot on the raised knee. It's the equivelent of sitting in a chair with one leg across your lap, foot on opposite knee.

And part of it is that my body seems to think the waking hours should be between 10 am and 3am. I'm never fully alert before 10am, and I'm at my most lucid after midnight.

I've been known to sleep for 24 hours straight, and can stay uo that long too on a creative binge. I rarely dream, but when I do, like someone said above, the dreams are very vivid. I have the best dreams when napping in the afternoon to make up for a late night.

Most of this has gone on since childhood.

08-09-2005, 08:30 AM
When I take my pills too late in the day i get insomnia. in my experience, it's just simply that i can't sleep. My body feels tired and i want to go to bed, but when i lie down and close my eyes, i end up doing just that for hours, or getting up every 15 minutes, get tired of staying up and bored and try to sleep with the same thing happening over again