It’s getting to be that time of year again. The Halloween decorations have been brought up from the basement, I’m halfway through Steven King’s latest short story collection and there is a new season of American Horror Story on television. Scary movies have been in regular rotation and I introduced the teenager to The Evil Dead films. Last week my wife and I attended Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, a very cool experience for those that enjoy that type of thing, and I’m back to annoying my family by hiding this spider in various areas of the house.
The joke’s been on me, however. None of these attempts at frightening myself or others have come close to the creepiness of a sleepwalking six year old suddenly discovered late at night when you think you are the only person awake, a glace across the couch finding a sitting figure long since thought to be asleep, empty eyes glazed over and vacant.
It’s a condition called somnambulism, one that I’d heard of but had no idea was actually a pretty rare disorder, had no idea that it was actually considered a disorder. Affecting 1-15% of the population, but more common in children ages 3-8, sleepwalkers do exactly what the name says, usually within an hour or two of falling asleep, eyes open and creepy looking, no memory after the fact of their wanderings.
Sleepwalking seems to be hereditary, though nobody else in either of our families does it. There is a higher instance in bed wetters and those that experience night terrors but neither of those apply. She doesn’t appear stressed or anxious, isn’t on any medications or suffering chronic fevers. I smell her breath before bed to make sure that her teeth have been brushed so I’m fairly confident she isn’t going to bed intoxicated.
It just seems to be a weird little quirk, something that we make people aware of now when she sleeps elsewhere. Apologies to those that got a bit freaked out by her before we realized how often it was happening.
Like me, she’s a big fan of the season, her “traps” and “tricks” growing more sophisticated each Halloween. It’s almost a shame that her most successful frights, the times when I nearly do jump out of my skin, happen when she doesn’t remember them.