Alyson Bair has vivid nightmares -- so vivid that many of them turn out to be real.
In two terrifying incidents over the past couple of months, Bair has woken from her dreams in the Snake River, unable to breathe or touch the ground, according to ABCNews.com. Her sleepwalking has forced her family to barricade the doors -- from the inside -- and install alarms to make sure she doesn't sleepwalk herself into more danger.
In early August, she suffered her first drowning nightmare.
"I thought I was dreaming, but then I realized I wasn't and I was scared," she told the site. "It was deep and I couldn't touch anywhere and I was getting tired. I had to keep turning around and floating on my back."
She eventually crawled onto the riverbank near her home in Burley, Idaho, and waited there until someone found her in the morning.
The 31-year-old mother of two says her family has taken every precaution to stop her late night escapades, but her sleepwalking self takes every advantage of mistakes. On Aug. 20, when her husband left the door open due to the heat, she sleepwalked out the door again and went straight to the river. She was found at 7:30 a.m., a quarter mile away from home on the riverbank, hypothermic and tired.
"It's definitely scary and it worries me," she told the site. "I haven't tried to drive or anything yet, but it just scares me what I could do. We've locked up all my medicines and made sure that our guns are locked up. Everything I could harm myself with is put away because I don't know what I'm going to do when I'm sleeping."
There are plenty of reasons why sleepwalkers' episodes can become more severe over the years. The New York Daily News reported that stress -- not drugs Bair is taking to treat a chronic autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with as a child -- is a likely factor in her regular sleepwalking.
Bair has been recommended to sleep doctors, who hope to help quell the nightmares. She's happy she hasn't "tried to drive or anything," and that she's only contracted hypothermia during her episodes. But she still worries for her family.
"I've got my family to take care of and be with and I love them very much," she told ABCNews.com. "So if there's any way I could help others by my story, just to bring awareness to how serious this could be, and talk about what steps we've taken and find out if there's anything else we can do, I'd like to do that."
PHOTOS: How to use all your senses to sleep better
A great night's sleep can depend on the comfort you feel in your bedroom environment. Many sleep experts say that a cool room, somewhere around 65 degrees, makes for the best sleep. The feel of your mattress, pillows, sheets and pajamas affects the quality of your sleep. Your mattress should be comfortable and supportive so that you wake up feeling rested, not achy or stiff. For more on how your mattress, sheets and pillows affect your sleep and how to dress for sleep, click over to the National Sleep Foundation.
A great night's sleep can depend on the visual conditions in your bedroom environment. Have you ever woken up just minutes before your alarm goes off and marveled at your body's sense of time? Humans (and most living creatures) have an internal clock that mirrors nature's cycles of day and night. Sunlight detected by cells in the retina of the eye sends messages to the brain that keep us in a roughly 24-hour pattern. Light in the bedroom (as well as light peeking in from outside) has an impact on the quality of your sleep. Scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. For more on making your room dark, including keeping gadgets out of the bedroom, click over to the National Sleep Foundation. Flickr photo by ex_magician
Are noises keeping you awake? While you sleep, your brain continues to register and process sounds on a basic level. Noise can jostle your slumber -- causing you to wake, move, shift between stages of sleep or experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure -- so briefly that you don't remember the next morning. Interestingly, whether or not a sound bothers your sleep depends in part on that sound's personal meaning: Researchers have seen that people are more likely to wake when a sound is relevant or emotionally charged. This is why, for example, a parent could sleep soundly through her partner's snores but wake fully when her baby fusses. For more on white noise, television and managing noise pollution, click over to the National Sleep Foundation.
What you breathe while you sleep can affect how you feel the next day. Surrounding yourself with a scent you like could help you drift off, and there is some evidence that certain smells may decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state. In a recent poll, roughly three quarters of people said they get a more comfortable night's sleep on sheets with a fresh scent. For more on how allergies affect sleep, click over to the National Sleep Foundation. Flickr photo by gliuoo
In the hours before bed, what you eat and drink can affect your sleep. Foods that may upset your stomach, such as fatty, fried or spicy foods, are best avoided before sleep. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but it can actually make it harder to sleep through the night and should be avoided in the hours before bed. Caffeine's effect on the body lasts many hours, so it is best not to consume it after the mid-afternoon. For more on what you should and shouldn't eat before bed, click over to the National Sleep Foundation. Flickr photo by paulaloe
For more on sleep, click here.