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Insomnia and sleepwalking


May 12, 2014
By Ian Robinson

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There’s this writer named Avery Sawyer.

And Avery Sawyer said: “I think insomnia is a sign a person is interesting.”

I read that and thought, “I would like very much to punch Avery Sawyer in the face,” but then I Googled Avery Sawyer and discovered that Avery Sawyer is not a man.

Avery Sawyer is, in fact, a highly attractive, blonde, female author of novels for young people.

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And I immediately felt guilty because I’d assumed Avery was a guy’s name.

Where I come from, you don’t hit girls.

So I immediately had to revise my unkind impulse.

Now I just want to shout obscenities at Avery Sawyer.

“To heck with you, Avery Sawyer and your foolish opinion concerning slumber!” I would shout.

Only I wouldn’t use the word “heck.” In fact, a certain Anglo-Saxon expletive starting with the letter “F” would get a serious workout.

I don’t normally shout stuff like that at attractive blonde writer ladies, but I’ve had insomnia on and off all my life—along with a condition lumped under the category of “night terrors”—and I’m pretty sure that if I get any more “interesting”…I’ll be dead or insane.

Some smart people with white laboratory coats and pocket protectors have come up with a theory that we sleep because when we’re asleep, we’re not stumbling around the forest in the dark looking like a two-legged snack for a sabre-toothed tiger.

Instead of making us lazy, nature decided that it would be more fun to just make us basically die for eight hours every night. Our brains would shut down except for the part that creates bizarre mind movies.

And for added enjoyment, if we can’t sleep, we go insane.

We need to sleep.

A shortage of sleep sees our heart disease risk double. We put on weight. We start exhibiting the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Which brings us to the joke of the day.

Question: How many kids with ADHD does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Wanna ride bikes?

Even when I do sleep, it’s not necessarily restful—because I’m a sleepwalker, too, and so is my son.

My boy is 17 now, and he inherited crooked teeth from his mom— which is why I paid an orthodontist enough money to buy a Porsche to make him look presentable—and sleepwalking from me.

No cure for the sleepwalking.

He discovered his unfortunate legacy one night when he was seven.

It was winter. Snow on the ground. Twenty degrees below zero. And he woke up in the alley behind our house. He was wearing one shoe and one sock—on different feet—his backpack and his pajamas.

It was 3 a.m. and he’d been dreaming he was going to school.

As he tells it, it was the first time he actually dropped the F-bomb. He stomped back into the house and straight into my bedroom and woke me up, demanding to know what the hell was going on.

I didn’t share this story with him at the time, but it could have been worse.

My most infamous sleepwalking incident occurred when I was 16. I was working construction one summer, so I was going to be in bed at nine at night. My parents were having a party.

According to my parents, I walked into their party around midnight. I went to one of their friends. Their hot friend, about 40 years old. Real hot. What the kids these days call a MILF.

And I sat down next to her, put my arm around her and starting telling her in some considerable erotic detail what my dream date with her would include.

My dad, aware I was a sleepwalker, said: “Son, are you asleep?”

I apparently replied: “Of course I am.”

“Go back to bed,” he said.

“If she’ll come with me.”

“Go back to bed. Alone!”

“All right,” I said…and returned to bed.

Did I happened to mention I was stark naked at the time? And that, ahem, my affection for the lady in question was apparent?

Not embarrassing at all.

Nope.

Not even a little bit.

Which explains why I took up wearing pajamas.

So insomnia’s not the worst sleep disorder. Not even a little bit.

But the most annoying thing about insomnia is that everybody’s got a guaranteed cure that they’re willing to tell you about at great length…that doesn’t work.

Eat turkey. Drink hot milk. Keep a sleep diary.

Now wouldn’t that be the most boring diary in the world?

Day 1. Dear Diary: Went to bed. Had a hard time sleeping.

Day 2. Dear Diary: Went to bed. Had a hard time sleeping.

Day 3. Dear Diary: I am throwing you in the garbage.

As you can tell, I have actually kept a sleep diary.

For three days. It didn’t work. Nothing works.

Until I find something that does, you can recognize me by the circles under my eyes, the generally grouchy demeanour and the fact that I’m the guy at the 24-hour grocery store buying a turkey and a jug of milk at 4 a.m.