Monday, January 30, 2017

Sleep Running: A Late Night Adventure

Last night, around 11:45 PM, I was folding laundry. (I know, I lead a very exciting life.) As I sorted through the load of towels I unexpectedly came across my 7-year-old son, James’s, karate pants. (See, that was kind of exciting.) I folded the pants and quietly entered my son’s room to put them away. James was lying on his bed, wrapped up in a swirl of Lego Movie and Mickey Mouse blankets, gently snoring away. He was out like a light. I noticed my son’s sketchbook on the floor and ever so silently opened it to see his latest creation. There was an illustration of one of our cats juggling three balls and another of our other cat jumping off a high dive into a bucket of water. At the top of the page it read “Cat Circus.” I smiled, looked at my little tyke snoozing away and soundlessly left the room.

A few minutes later, I finished dealing with the laundry and was about to put the basket away when I heard a door open down the hallway, which meant one of my two sons was suddenly leaving their room close to midnight. I started to walk down the hallway to see which of their doors had opened up, when James went sprinting past me toward the living room. As he went past I said, “James, what’s the matter,” but got no response in return. I watched as he ran into the living room, launched himself onto our couch, and curled up into a fetal position. I quickly went over.

“James, are you okay?” I asked, my hand on his shoulder. Nothing

“Is something wrong?” I asked, shaking him gently. Nothing.

“What are you doing out here?” I asked, shaking him a little less gently. Nothing.

His eyes were closed and he was snoring in the same manner I had heard five minutes earlier when I was in his room. This boy was asleep! And I quickly surmised that when he ran past me he was asleep, too. I had heard about sleepwalking before (and had seen it in a few horror movies I didn’t want to think about at that moment), but I had never heard of sleep running. Leave it to my kid to go over the top with his first bout of somnambulism.

After a few more failed attempts at getting him to wake up so he could go back to his room, I got my wife, who my kids actually listen to. She came into the living room and was as flummoxed by the situation as me. She tried many of the same tactics I did, to no avail. She even told him to wake up because he was sleepwalking—although technically, at that point, he was just plain sleeping, though in the wrong part of the house. Finally, after much coaxing, she managed to get him onto his feet and gently guided him back to his room, although I’m sure he slept through that entire 30-foot march.

What possessed my son to suddenly go on his quick sleep run, I have no idea. I wondered if my having been in his room a few minutes earlier may have triggered some subconscious fear that there was an intruder in his midst and he needed to get away. Or maybe it was just a coincidence and he would have gone on his run had I been in there or not. Perhaps he just didn’t get enough exercise during the day and his body decided to do some nocturnal aerobics. (I know that’s the only way I would ever get exercise, because I’m sure as heck not going to do it while I’m awake.)

Whatever the reason for my son’s little sleep-time adventure, it will be interesting to see if it was an isolated incident or if he will do it again. While the practical side of me realizes that it would be safer if this was a one-time thing, part of me wonders if we could get him to do other things besides run in his sleep—like wash the dishes or clean out the cat’s litterbox.  Or laundry, for that matter! After all it was his karate pants that may have triggered this whole incident in the first place.