Have you experienced someone doing crazy things in their sleep? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Have you experienced someone doing crazy things in their sleep? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

We have all heard stories about the friend of a friend who sleep-walked out of two story window and didn’t even get a bruise.  Or, we’ve heard of the cheating boyfriend whose pillow talk revealed his infidelity.  But do people really do these kinds of crazy things in their sleep?  Yes they do, and more.


Sleep Walking

This is one of the more well-known parasomnias and is characterized by people getting out of bed and walking, driving, or doing other complex activities while they are asleep.  Generally, sufferers have no recollection of anything that occurred while they were asleep.  The formal name for sleepwalking is somnambulism and it is more common in children than in adults.  Sleepwalking can be triggered by sedatives including alcohol, sleep deprivation, some illnesses, and some medications.


Sleep Talking

Another well-known parasomnia, sleep talking or somniloquy, is characterized by a person talking or making noises while they are asleep.  The person may speak clearly and say things that make sense or they may mumble or speak gibberish.  Anyone can talk in their sleep at any time but it is rarely a long term problem.  Sleep talking is commonly seen with other sleep disorders and in some adults can indicate an underlying medical or mental health condition.  Stress, sleep deprivation, depression, illness, and alcohol can all contribute to sleep talking.


Sleep Eating

Sleep eating or Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NSRED) is an emerging parasomnia and is characterized by a person binge eating while they are asleep.  The condition is still being defined and is also considered an eating disorder.  Those who suffer from this disorder will procure and ingest food of varying amounts while they are asleep without ever waking up and without any memory of doing so.


Sleep Texting

Another emerging parasomnia-like behavior is sleep texting.  People struggling with this send and respond to text messages while asleep.  Doctors are unsure if stress or other factors contribute to this condition but more and more incidents of the problem have been reported. However, unlike true parasomnias like sleep walking and sleep talking, sleep texting is more likely to be occurring while people are about half awake rather than while they are completely asleep.


REM Behavior Disorder

When our bodies move into REM sleep we also experience something called sleep paralysis which is what keeps us from moving about and acting out the content of our dreams.  This is necessary for our own protection since the activity going on in our brains is very similar to the activity experienced when we are awake.  In essence, our brains don’t know we are asleep and if our bodies could move, we would be acting out whatever our brains believe we are doing.  When this mechanism doesn’t work properly, you can experience REM behavior disorder.  People with this condition will act out their dreams while remain asleep.  This can be dangerous for them and for partner that shares their bed.