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If blogging while awake wasn’t hard enough…

February 20, 2009

…try “Emailing while asleep”.

According to a case described in the medical journal Sleep Medicine, a 44-year-old sleepwalker logged onto her computer and emailed out party invitations to friends. Fortean Times magazine looks at this case and several other bizarre episodes of somnambulism. From Fortean Times: The mails themselves were perhaps not up to the woman’s waking standard; each was in a random mix of upper and lower case characters, badly formatted and containing odd expressions. One read: “Come tomorrow and sort this hell hole out. Dinner and drinks, Bring wine and caviar only.” Another said simply: “What the…”

There have been a number of stories over the past couple of years about the strange things people have done whilst taking Ambien, which is also sold under the name Stilnox.  Some of these have been in the form of trashy current affairs stories, complete with actors re-enacting late night strolls in Y-fronts and woozy camera effects.  According to an old story in the Sydney Morning Herald,

A national drug reactions hotline fielded 500 calls from Stilnox users who reported odd behaviours from crashing cars to falling from balconies after popping a pill. One patient gained 23 kilograms over seven months after unknowingly eating from the refrigerator while asleep. Another patient woke up with a paintbrush in her hand after painting the front door.

I haven’t ever suffered from insomnia, but was prescribed Stilnox for a flight.  We had booked a very short visit to Tokyo and I didn’t want to waste any of it catching up on missed sleep, so I figured sleeping tablets would be a reasonable answer.  They did the trick – after the traditional take-off G&T and some typically nasty Qantas food, I popped my tablet and was soon in the land of nod.  I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to make the most of my break.

After this positive experience, I had no hesitation in taking another for the night flight home, and was quite surprised – and a mite skeptical – when I started hearing reports of problems with the drug.  Even though one of those reports was from a colleague – not a “friend of an aunt” or “cousin of a next door neighbour”, but a first-hand sufferer – it wasn’t enough to dissuade me from using them on a trip to South Africa.

I will not use them again.

I don’t think I painted any buildings, ate voraciously, operated heavy machinery or undertook any other activities after taking the pill on the flight home.  It’s just that I don’t remember anything about the flight home.  Including transferring between planes at Hong Kong Airport.  I struggled to navigate HKIA on the outward journey; I have no idea how I managed to get safely from Cathay to Qantas on the way home.

Sometimes I still think I’ll appear in grainy footage on one of those “World’s Craziest Travellers” type of shows, walking around Chek Lap Kok with my knickers on my head.

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