I guess a great number of people in the UK watched Mindshock, the program on sleepwalking, on Channel 4 last night.
If you missed it, here's the link, with a lot of the information.
The detail which I found most fascinating (and which is not mentioned on the page linked above) was to do with why it is dangerous to wake a sleepwalker. I always assumed the danger was to the walker, when it is apparently to the person that is interfering, who is likely to get thumped, or worse.
See, rather embarrassingly I can understand this and relate to it on a personal level as well as an academic one. Husband knows well enough never to wake me suddenly and more never to wake me at all by standing by the bed and leaning over me. In that split second that I go from the secure, accepted reality of the dreamsleep to instead the 'real' world where my eyes are fighting what light there is, all is blurry and a strange, silhouetted male figure is stooping over me; well, there's simply not enough time to get sensible about where I really am and what the real situation is, before my animal/gut instincts have reacted to a perceived threat and smacked him in the face or pushed him backward across the room.
Its one thing to say theres not enough time, but the rage hangs around. After that I will be 'wide awake' in a fight or flight sense, even if my brain isn't working properly - panting, hot, stressed, hyperalert, aggressive, furious, shocked, defensive - if Husband were the indignant type or otherwise daft enough to keep hold or get in closer instead of backing off, then its completely likely that I would keep on flipping out at him without taking pause to assess the situation. As it is, when he's put me through that shock but backed right off, my second reaction is still to express more of my exasperation by following him to get in another shove. Its not even like a second reaction, more that I am up and running, defending/attacking furiously and at full pelt.
Its not me, honestly, its all base reactions, and as I properly 'wake' it is like reclaiming control from some animal. I could still be arguing loudly about how that is NOT the way to wake me, yet even if the stream of consciousness feels apparently uninterrupted; husband will still have to calmly tell me one or two of the things that I said or did, because I don't remember.
Its a good job husband is such a nice guy. Its a good job I've mastered denial.
I used to be a sleepwalker.
As a child I terrified my mother, walking down spiral stairwells and trying to get out of the front door, still dreaming yet generally attempting things that a five year old would never dare, in her waking hours.
Later I could still scare her silly because even when I wasn't sleepwalking anymore I was still often fast asleep with one or both eyes wide open, making her frequently wonder if I was dead.
Last to go (and it never truly went) was, more than sleep-talking, sleep-conversing.
I answer people.
Sometimes we have matching issues (say, concern over the time and my need to not be late) so the exchange will appear to them to make perfect sense, even though I am sound asleep the whole time and don't remember a word of it. Sometimes, I am told, my replies make sense as sentences, but that is all. For example, if Husband was to say "Good morning" I might, if dreaming, reply "No I can't because its snowing."
These days, instead of leaving me to keep dreaming until the time means he has to wake me and has to stand over me, he will start gently bugging me there and then, from beside me, from a position that cannot be confused with attack.
I have to wonder, if I was still a sleepwalker and, say, at the edge of a flight of stairs so he had to wake me and hang on for my own safety; would he still be alive? Or would my inner animal have pushed him down the stairs in indignation, and then stormed off to the kitchen for a couple of knives to finish the job (on account of how this bastardarseholesoneofawanker broke my concentration (dream) and that is unforgiveable)?
After watching that programme I genuinely do not know.