Jim Buchanan

Jim Buchanan

When I was 6 or so, I was observed attempting, repeatedly, to walk through a wall.

I have no recollection of the event, as I was sleepwalking.

Families have traits. Some produce a lot of left-handed offspring, some crank out a line of descendants that for whatever reason are good at math.

I recall the older generations of Buchanans as being big dreamers. Not “I’m going to come up with an inexpensive universal health care” sort of dream but dreams laden with hidden meaning.

I didn’t inherit that. Sure, I dream, but my dreams are … weird. Sometimes strange enough to startle me awake, like the time I dreamed Joe Lieberman was my very best friend in the whole wide world. Or the time I dreamed I was falling asleep at the wheel, only to realize I was home in bed, only to tell myself of course that’s what people falling asleep at the wheel would think, so I’d better wake up.

I was stuck in that loop the whole stupid night.

The Deitz side of the family had useful dreams, like when Columbus Deitz dreamed of a spot up on the head of East Fork that was the location of a lucrative mica mine. He went and checked and son of a gun there it was, in reality. He named it the Dream Mine.

Another Deitz trait, though, was somnambulism. Sleepwalking. That was the reason I was bouncing off a wall like a Roomba stuck under a table so many years back.

My example wasn’t the worst. One cousin over in Buncombe County reportedly walked across the four-lane one night. Another got up in his sleep to use the restroom and … well, restrooms have doors, and refrigerators have doors, so maybe that explained his behavior that particular night.

It occurred to me I haven’t heard much about sleepwalking of late, so off to the internet I went. I found a few interesting stories, like one guy on an airplane who spent the flight showing people how to wrap turbans around their heads and make paper airplanes. He didn’t have an inkling that was what he’d been up to, even he watched the videos people had taped during his hijinks.

There were quite a few stories of that sort associated with a popular sleep aid, so I went and checked the list of its side effects, and what a list it was. I think it might be a marketing ploy, ’cause I for one had trouble sleeping after reading the long lists, broken down into COMMON side effects, INFREQUENT side effects and RARE side effects. Down there under RARE was listed “perform complex natural behaviors while asleep.” A couple of side effects later was simply listed “sleepwalking.”

Aside from a few such tales I didn’t find a lot of plain old sleepwalking stories. So, I started thinking maybe there’s just not much of it occurring anymore.

I think not, said the Free Market.

Sure as dawn follows the night, once you make an internet search little ads and teasers start showing up for whatever you’ve been looking for. It’s just the weirdest coincidence. It reminds me of this guy I knew in college who would enter a dorm room, scan the shelves and spy, say, a bag of Cheetos, and ask: “Do you happen to have any Cheetos?”

Anyway, evidently there are bucks to be made out there from sleepwalking, it would seem. There are alarms imbedded in floor mats that wake you up when your feet hit the floor. There are door alarms. There are window alarms, motion alarms, alarms that sure look a lot like tracking collars.

I sleep pretty well, so I’ve never had to take sleep aids, and I’m glad of that. Another side effect in some is an inability to dream. I’d hate to pass up a chance of finding a mine.

Buchanan is special projects editor for the Sylva Herald.