Yesterday I mentioned that I’d been watching the BBC four documentary, The Brain, presented by Neuroscientist David Eagleman. One of the topics explored was sleep walking.
I can only recall a few occasions when I have sleep walked. The first was while at University. I woke up, finding myself stood up and noticed that the door to my bedroom in the halls of residence was closing behind me. By the time I’d properly comprehended what was taking place, the door had closed and automatically locked, leaving me on the outside of my room, standing in the corridor.
I checked my pockets for my keys to let me back in, and realised that I didn’t have any pockets. The reason for my complete lack of pockets was due to my complete lack of clothes. I was standing totally naked in the corridor of my halls of residence.
I was stunned, having no idea what on earth had just occurred and why. I’d never sleep walked before, so it’s not as if I’d had any past experiences to relate this to. But, despite my overwhelming confusion, this really wasn’t the time or the place to ruminate on what had just occurred.
I would have to visit the security building in order to get a new key, but that would involve a minute’s walk, and necessitate me going outside. I didn’t really fancy walking around the University grounds completely naked. Plus I’d have to somehow try and explain to the security staff what was happening rather quickly, lest they become freaked out by the fact that I’m walking towards them in the nude.
And how was I going to alert them? Walk through the grounds towards them shouting, “Warning, warning, I’m coming towards you and I’m naked.” And this wasn’t really much of an explanation. It’s not as if they’d hear me shouting about being naked and approaching them, and think, “I’m glad he warned us, otherwise that would have been a bit awkward lads.” I’d ideally want them to know the reason why I was approaching them completely naked, before I actually reached them.
Me shouting at the top of my voice that I was naked would surely attract more attention than just the security staff. I didn’t really want to wake up all the students in the University by walking naked through the grounds shouting about being naked. Naturally, people would open their windows and have a look. I’m not bragging here, suggesting that people would obviously want to enjoy this visual treat (they’re only human after all), I just mean that if they were woken up by shouting, they would be likely to open the window to see what was happening. I would need to be discrete, but at the same time be indiscrete enough so as to alert the security staff that I was naked, but not for any kinky reason, but simply because I’d locked myself out of my room. But I knew that this would have been impossible. They would probably see me coming way before they could hear anything that I was saying. They could pick me up on their cameras. They would just see a naked man walking towards them shouting.
So I couldn’t walk to the security building until I’d put some clothes on, but all my clothes were in my room which was locked. Perhaps I could find something in the corridor that would suffice to cover the essentials. Perhaps there’d be a curtain on one of the windows that I could take down and wear. You may think that this is completely illogical, but I’d just woken up, and what choice did I have? I needed something to wear, and with a complete absence of clothes, I would need to explore alternative options.
I took a step into the corridor, at which point the light came on. I stood, frozen in horror. Someone had come out of their room. The only reason the light would come on was if someone had activated it, and the only way to do that was by moving. And then I remembered that I had just moved, and thus it was presumably me who’d activated the light. Again, I was not thinking logically, I was in a panic, in an odd state of alertness, by which I am referring purely to my brain state; I was completely unalert as far as that part of me went, which was just as well really, otherwise that could make the situation even more awkward.
I tentatively tip-toed down the corridor, as quietly as possible, dreading that my antics might wake someone up who may open their door to investigate. I searched for curtains, but it was no use. There were some pull-down curtains that were currently open and consequently right at the top of the window. The only way I’d be able to get those down was by fiddling with the fastenings at the very top of the window. It was quite a large window, and so this would essentially mean that I’d have to stretch right up, standing on my tip-toes, in order to reach. This would not be an easy task, and would require me to stand tall and upright (again, not like that, I really wasn’t finding this arousing) in full view of anyone who might look in. I would essentially be putting myself on exhibition, standing in front of the window displaying myself in all my severe lack of glory. So, another plan thwarted.
The only way I was going to get some clothes was if I borrowed some from someone. I really didn’t want to do this, but I had no choice. I crept to the bedroom door of the person who lived next-door to me, Dan. I very quietly knocked on his door. I wanted to wake him up, but obviously didn’t want to awaken anyone else. It would be a rather awkward scenario if someone else heard the knocking, assumed it was someone knocking on their door, and opened the door to see me standing outside Dan’s door, completely naked. I therefore tried a knock that was hopefully loud enough for Dan to hear, but quiet enough so as not to rouse anyone else.
The knock elicited nothing. I knocked again, daring to knock a little louder. There was a pause, and then I heard some movement from the other side of the door. Had he heard? I pressed my ear against the keyhole. It sounded like he was getting out of bed. Brilliant, I was saved. He’d answer the door, I’d get some clothes from him and walk to the security building and get another … Hang on, what the hell was I thinking? Imagine what he’d think when he opened his door to see me standing their completely naked. Goodness knows how he’d react. If he shouted out in shock then it might wake others up who might come out of their rooms to see what the commotion is all about.
I needed to warn him about my physical state, before he opened the door. I could hear him getting closer to the door. At least I assumed that’s what I was hearing; my heart was beating so loudly that I couldn’t really tell. But I must act quickly. If he was up, then he’d be at the door in a couple of seconds. Our student rooms really weren’t palatial. It was important to keep my voice quiet, but loud enough so that he heard me. It was vital that he heard me, otherwise, goodness knows what would happen.
“Dan,” I began, my voice nervous and urgent. “I’m completely naked dan.”
There I’d said it. With a bit of luck he’d heard me, and now he’d know, so at least he wouldn’t be shocked. What do you mean, he wouldn’t be shocked David? “Dan, I’m completely naked”?! That’s hardly the most innocuous phrase in the world! What did I think was going to happen next? That he’d open the door, and say, “Oh, so you are. Thank goodness you warned me, otherwise I’d have been really freaked out. Well, you best come in. Fancy a drink? What have you been up to?”
And if he had said that then it would be me who was freaked out, and that would add another and very different dimension of awkwardness. I needed to quickly explain what had happened, before he opened the door.
I hurriedly tried to explain the situation through the keyhole. I then put my ear back against the keyhole and listened for a response. I heard the sound of a wardrobe opening and then closing. I then heard rustling and further movement. I think he may have understood and was getting some clothes for me. I still couldn’t be sure though. Perhaps he hadn’t heard any of what I’d said, and had just heard the knocking. Maybe he was just putting on some clothes before opening the door. Should I try and explain the situation again, just in case?
“Dan, just to warn you that I’ve been sleep walking, and woke up outside of my room, completely naked, and …”
The door opened.
“Yes I know, shut up, quick, get in, for god’s sake before someone sees!”
I stepped into his room, and the door closed behind us. He handed me some clothes, which I hurriedly put on, and then walked to the security building, got a spare key and let myself back in to my room. Fortunately, it hadn’t played out as badly as it could have done.
Apparently, there was a reported case of a woman in Australia who used to sleep walk, leave the house and have sex with complete strangers. Perhaps I’ll meet her in March. “Hey babe, are you currently experiencing a parasomnia episode caused by REM sleep behaviour disorder, or are you just pleased to see me? No, probably quite a difficult question to understand and satisfactorily answer if you’re having a parasomnia episode. Never mind, shall we crack on with the sex then?”
Another reported case involves a chef, who would get up in the middle of the night and cook food in his sleep. There is another case of a man who gets up during the night and produces surrealistic artworks in his sleep. Apparently he’d never had any artistic inclination before this started happening, and doesn’t have any artistic thoughts during the day. He has no recollection of creating the pieces of art, but simply discovers them upon waking the next day. He has had requests to exhibit his work in art galleries.
Damn these people. If only there was some way of programming my brain to get up in the middle of the night and create these Dollops, so that, upon waking, I find them to be done. But alas, the closest I’ve come to this was getting a poltergeist to help out at night, but unfortunately he’s gone now.
Back tomorrow. Hopefully you will join me, unless you’ve made the stupid decision to give David’s Daily Digital Dollop up for lent. But you’ll never succeed in that. Even if you manage it for a bit, your brain will programme itself to get you up during the night, read/listen to that day’s Dollop and then go back to sleep again. You cannot win. I am too addictive.