A few years ago, while working on a story about Wichita at night, I interviewed a pharmacist who worked across the street from a hospital. I asked him about his most unusual experience working nights.
“Well,” he said, “one night just before closing time, a tall senior citizen showed up holding a flower pot containing one bedraggled flower.”
“What’s unusual about that?” I asked.
“He was naked,” he replied, “and, fortunately, appeared to be asleep.”
The pharmacist said he wished he had been asleep. But he called the hospital, assuming the man was a patient. He didn’t know for sure because there was no place for his visitor to be carrying identification.
The hospital sent people to return the man to his room.“Otherwise,” said the pharmacist, “the rest of the night was pretty uneventful.”
I was reminded of that interview recently while reading a newspaper article about sleepwalking. In the article, Dr. Michael Nadorff, president of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, said scientists think the disorder comes from a problem with dopamine levels in the brain.
I looked up dopamine and learned that it also has a lot to do with sleep apnea, sleep paralysis, nightmares and insomnia.
Nadorff didn’t say what, exactly, the problem with dopamine is. My advice is that if you don’t have enough of it, get some more, and if you have too much, get rid of some.
Most of the time, sleepwalking isn’t dangerous. But it can be.
For example, comedian Mike Birbiglia says that once while sleepwalking, he jumped out of a second-story window while staying at a La Quinta Inn in Walla Walla, Washington.
So, if you’re a sleepwalker, you might want to book a first-floor room.
Should you awaken a sleepwalker? Experts say that though waking a sleepwalker is safe, it can be hard to do. Gently guiding them back to bed usually is the best option — although maybe not easy to do when they’re standing naked your pharmacy.
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