New Hampshire Man Shoots Himself While Sleep Walking
August 1, 2013: Police in New Hampshire say a man who shot himself in the leg this week may have been sleepwalking. The victim, whose name is not being released because he is not facing any charges, was hospitalized in Concord Tuesday with a gunshot wound to the knee. His wife, who reported the incident to police, told officers that he appeared to be in a state of sleep at the time and was awakened by the gunshot. Source: Associated Press
A rather rude awakening, I’d say. But it’s certainly not the first time. On October 29th 2010, Sanford Rothman in Boulder, CO had a clear wakeup call early in the morning. It wasn't an alarm. It was also a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his left knee obtained while sleep walking.
Sleep disorders are common and are collectively called parasomnias. Quite simply, a parasomnia is an abnormal behavior that occurs during sleep. Parasomnia sleep disorders may cause abnormal movements, behaviors, emotions, and perceptions. Most people talk in their sleep, others eat while sleeping, while others are prone to sleepwalking. These behaviors are, at times, amusing and may even be comical. However, other parasomnias involve criminal activity including sexual assault or even homicide. People acting out a parasomnia have no conscious control of their actions.
What is Sleepwalking?
Sleepwalking, medically known as somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors that are initiated during a slow-wave sleep. This disorder is frequently associated with sleep deprivation. Most people have sleepwalked on at least one occasion. Sleepwalking is relatively common in young children. In the elderly, sleepwalking may be a symptom of an organic brain syndrome, such as dementia. Sleepwalking usually poses no serious health threat to those who experience it, although the risk of injury or aggression is a priority concern. Actually, a sleepwalker is not truly asleep, but is in a dissociated arousal state. A sleepwalker typically remains in this state throughout the entire sleepwalking episode. The individual may be difficult to awaken, and will probably not remember the sleepwalking incident at all.
The normal sleep cycle involves several distinct stages including; drowsiness, rapid eye movement (REM) and deep sleep. During a night, there will be several cycles of non-REM and REM sleep. Vivid dreaming occurs during REM sleep. Sleep walking most often occurs during deep, non-REM, sleep early in the night. It can also occur during REM sleep near morning. It rarely occurs during napping.
Sleepwalking episodes usually last from one to five minutes, but they may last as long as one hour. During the episode the individual may appear to be awake, but usually has a blank expression; their eyes open in a glassy stare. Sleepwalking usually involves more than just walking during sleep, it is a series of complicated actions that are carried out while sleeping. A sleepwalker can talk (frequently incoherently), cook and eat food, use the phone, have sexual relations, move furniture, wash clothes, feed the pets, bathe and dress. He or she is also capable of taking a gun from the dresser, removing knives from kitchen drawers, using power tools, driving, physically or verbally attacking others. Many sleepwalkers have the unique experience of waking up during their travels.
Sleepwalking can occur at any age, but it is most frequently seen in children aged 6 to 12. It also occurs in adolescents, adults, or in the elderly. 30% of American adults have sleepwalked at least once in their life. Approximately 4% have sleepwalked once or more in the past year. Sleepwalking has a genetic tendency; it runs in families. Males are more likely to sleepwalk than females.