You and your roomis love staying up till 3 am watching horror flicks on Netflix, and suddenly when all is dark and quiet, you hear someone talking. You dismiss it as a phone call, but then you start to hear screaming or someone walking around the house, and you’re frozen under the covers not because it’s cold but because you are scared, only to find out that your roommate has been sleepwalking!
Halloween season or not, if someone is carrying out everyday activities with eyes wide open, while their brain is basically asleep, it is challenging for the sleepwalker and the people living with the sleepwalker. Although it’s a rare condition in adulthood (a mere 4% of the population) and most people grow out of it once they hit puberty, “somnambulism” (or sleepwalking) in adults is not unheard of.
The kind of behavior carried out during sleepwalking ranges from sitting up on the bed, talking and rummaging through the cupboards, eating, to walking out of the house and driving to kill their mother-in-law (true story). The behavior and the sleepwalking process itself is terrifying and still a mystery to scientists.
If you have a sleepwalking roomi, being creeped out on more occasions than one is justified but not helpful.
So here are some ways you can deal with a sleepwalking roomi.
1. Be gentle when your roommate is sleepwalking
Maybe the first time you saw your roomi carry out activities while sleeping creeped you out, and you wanted to scream, rattle them, and wake them up so they can return to their usual selves. But science says that’s not the right way to deal with a sleepwalker, as the sudden shock might make them violent.
If your sleepwalking roomi is somewhere they shouldn’t be (maybe standing at the edge of your bed, talking to an invisible spirit over your head), do not scream. Instead, try talking back to them in a gentle voice, and slowly guide them to their bed, putting them to sleep again. Think of yourself as a powerful hypnotist who can make people do whatever they want, using your powers for good to put your roomi to sleep again!
2. Keep harmful appliances around the apartment out of their reach
Sleepwalkers tend to carry out a surprising range of activities while sleepwalking: From cooking and cleaning to eating raw food in front of the TV, and even driving on the highway, sleepwalkers are unpredictable when it comes to the activities they indulge in while sleepwalking.
So make sure you switch off the stove’s main plug every night, lock all doors and windows so it’s not easy for them to venture out, keep the car keys out of reach, and preferably snacks too! Locking your roomis up in their room could be a bit extreme, but if they have a history of indulging in activities that might be harmful to them as well as to other roomis while sleepwalking, you could try it out if your sleepwalking roomi is willing.
3. Know the preventative measures for when your roommate is sleepwalking
The thing with sleepwalking is it affects you as much as – or even more than – it affects the sleepwalker. So investing a little time in helping them take preventive measures is a good way to deal with this situation.
Charlene Gamaldo, the medical director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep says the triggers for sleepwalking range from stress, genetics, fatigue, heat to poor sleep hygiene, or loud, overly bright bedrooms filled with TVs and digital devices.
So make sure you and your roomis maintain better eating and sleeping habits, spend less time with digital devices before bedtime, and use helpful mechanisms to deal with stress.
4. Do not ostracise them
It’s creepy and unusual, but we’re sure your roomi feels worse about it when you point it out. The fact remains that sleepwalking is a mysterious, yet fascinating health condition that could be caused by underlying concerns. Shaming or ostracising them for a condition that they cannot control won’t lead to any good and might sever your relationship.
However, if your roomi’s sleepwalking habits are repetitive and bothersome, have a conversation with them about visiting a doctor or moving in with their parents till they can put in better ways to control it. It might even be funny sometimes, but if not taken care of, sleepwalking can pose many dangers to the sleepwalker and the people around them. So make sure you deal with a situation like this with empathy and make them feel loved even if they’re snatching sweet sleep away from you.
D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers figure out the best approach to things if their roommate is sleepwalking? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!