THE BLOG

In Sickness and In Sleep: Married to a Chronic Sleep Walker

02/17/2015 07:37 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015

I don't nag my husband, Isaac, to do chores around the house. But sometimes I wake him up in the middle of the night screaming that there are enormous spiders in our sheets, and evil guinea pigs in the closet. I don't complain when he watches football all day or puts his dirty clothes on the floor directly next to the hamper. But I have been known to sneak down to the kitchen and eat the lunch he so carefully packed for work the next day. I don't mind that he leaves the toilet seat up after every trip to the restroom, and I don't hold onto grievances from past arguments. But sometimes in the dead of the night, I will sit straight up and whisper spine-chilling things to him. Things that would give Marilyn Manson nightmares. And for the remainder of his sleepless night, Isaac will lay next to me wondering what he got himself into when he said, "I do."

In my opinion, Isaac knew exactly what he was getting into when he married me. It's not like we said our wedding vows and suddenly my sleep walking and sleep talking disorder was activated. I was not a sleeping beauty whose subconscious beast was awaiting a prince charming to kiss it to life. In fact, very early into our relationship, Isaac got a taste of the "crazy train", as he so lovingly calls it.

He was playing poker with friends one night when I called screaming that someone was trying to break into our apartment. I was hysterical and told him to please hurry home, I wasn't sure if I could hold the door shut for much longer. I remember wrestling with the door knob, my sweaty hands desperate to hold it shut while the villain on the other side fought to open it. Isaac raced home not knowing what he would find-- his girlfriend missing or dead? His apartment burglarized? He found neither. Instead, Isaac screeched into the driveway and flung the door open to find a soundly sleeping girlfriend, no burglar in sight. He woke me up and I immediately knew what had happened-- I had acted out (an Oscar-worthy performance, I might add) the nightmare I was having.

My sleep talking isn't always of the horror movie variety. There was a night a few weeks ago where I sang so loudly (and badly) in my sleep that I was eventually awoken by Isaac's howling, tears of laughter streaming down his cheeks. A few weeks before that, I was the one doing the laughing. In the middle of a dead sleep, I began giggling uncontrollably. I wandered around the house to try and stifle my giggles, but it proved futile. I could not stop laughing. Isaac said while funny at first, sleep-laughing with a zombie-like, distant expression on my face became exceptionally creepy after 15 minutes.

The stories go on and on. Almost every night I put on some sort of show, even if it's simply to ask Isaac if Santa Claus brought him the shirt he is sleeping in, to proclaim that I am wetting the bed followed by maniacal laughter (I didn't actually wet the bed), or to yell at him to not spill any salsa in the sheets (he never eats salsa in bed).

My sleep stories have definitely been a source of comedy in our relationship, but we recently wondered if there may actually be something wrong with me, and my brain. While Isaac would argue that yes, there is definitely something wrong with me (sleep disorder or not), a visit to a neurologist and a gold star on my sleep study proved otherwise. As it turns out, I am simply in the 3.6% of adults who have a sleep walking disorder. In fact, I even used the intercom to sleep talk to the technician monitoring my sleep study! Regardless, the doctor said I had one of the best sleep studies he had ever seen. Of course I did.

Since the sleep study, I have thankfully found ways to naturally decrease my somnambulant adventures. While Isaac recommended a skilled exorcist or priest, I instead tried altering my diet by cutting out all sugar and preservatives. Within just a few days, my nightmares and night terrors became nonexistent. I still sleep walk and sleep talk, but they are never prolonged, terrifying episodes like they used to be. I also cut down on binge-watching crime TV shows which, to nobody's surprise, seemed to exacerbate my already overactive dream state. Sorry Detective Benson, it's not you, it's me.

Do you need some marriage perspective? Consider yourself lucky if your wife has never sat up in a pitch black room and whispered, "She wants to know what your insides look like." Is your husband's sloppiness driving you crazy? Be thankful that he has never frantically rearranged the bedroom in his sleep, moving everything to higher ground in preparation for the approaching flood he is dreaming about. Do you enjoy uninterrupted sleep? Be grateful that your spouse doesn't push you off of the bed in a moment of panic because you are "sleeping on a pile of puppies who need rescuing."

While Isaac and I, over the span of our marriage, will surely encounter the relationship problems that most couples face, at least we know things in the bedroom will never get dull.