They did what? 5 weird things people do in their sleep
From eating to having sex, it turns out the wee hours of the morning can bring out some very odd behaviours.
Most of us have heard of sleep walking and sleep talking, but some disruptive sleep disorders – or parasomnias, to give them their technical name – are far more unusual.
What are parasomnias?
“Parasomnias describe a type of sleep problem in which abnormal events or behaviours occur during sleep,” says clinical psychologist Dr Melissa Ree, a senior lecturer at the University of Western Australia.
“Most people have experienced some kind of parasomnia in their lifetime – they are often harmless events, but can feel confusing and even frightening.
“We only classify them as a disorder if they are frequent and severe enough to impact on person’s wellbeing, health or functioning.”
Let us take you through five of the more surprising things you might be doing while you think you’re dreaming peacefully.
- Related: What do your dreams mean?
1. Sleep eating
A midnight snack takes on an entirely different meaning when you chow down while you’re in the land of z.
Sufferers of this parasomnia can ingest anything from a small snack to a large feast during the night, almost entirely unconsciously.
“Sleep-related eating disorder can also sometimes involve cooking while in deep sleep,” Dr Ree, who runs the Sleep Matters sleep clinic, says.
“In the morning the person may have no memory for the eating episode and may wake to find the kitchen in disarray.
“Causes can vary a great deal but may include certain medications, stress, irregular sleep patterns, other sleep disorders and daytime eating disorders.”
2. Sleep sex
While your bed can be used for sleep and yes, for sex, it might surprise you to know that those two things can actually happen at the same time.
“Sexsomnia is a condition where, in rare cases, people perform all sorts or very complex behaviours whilst in deep sleep, including sexual acts,” Melissa explains.
“Parasomnias have been controversially used as a legal defence in some trials of sexual assault and even murder.”
3. Sleep anger
We’ve all gotten out of the wrong side of the bed in the morning, but sleep anger is a disturbance that can happen in children as well as adults.
This dramatic parasomnia is known in technical terms as confusional arousal disorder, which according to a 2010 study by Swiss researchers occurs when the sufferer wakes up feeling upset, aggressive and agitated.
The good news is it usually wears off pretty quickly – between 15 and 30 minutes.
4. Sleep texting
As if having those fingers on high performance output across your smartphone all day isn’t enough, it seems sleep texting is becoming a thing.
According to a recent report out of Villanova University in the US, sleep-texting is a growing issue, particularly among young men and women.
Of the 372 students surveyed for the study, scientists found nearly a quarter reported texting in their sleep, with 72 per cent unable to remember their midnight missives the next day.
Poor sleep hygiene and the fact that many young people remain glued to their mobile phones, even while in bed, are two of the main contributing factors the study reported.
5. Sleep driving
“In very rare cases, parasomnias can be serious with people driving their car, climbing out of a window and as already discussed, cooking or becoming violent while asleep,” Melissa reveals.
In a similar way to sleep eating and sleep sex, it is possible to leave the house, take your car for a spin, and return to bed without remembering a thing.
As you can imagine, this parasomnia is very dangerous and you should seek medical treatment if you think this one might apply to you!
More on sleep:
- What happened when I started prioritising sleep
- 9 things parents do wrong when it comes to baby sleep
- Could a sleep divorce save your relationship?
- How to get a better night’s sleep
Written by Liz McGrath.