I am a reformed sleepwalker turned sleep-texter.
What is a sleep-texter? I text in my sleep. I Snapchat in my sleep. I write cryptic notes to myself about my dreams while I sleep. I draw in marker on my side table while I sleep.
Luckily, I don’t sleepwalk much these days, my 50 Greatest Hits of which include escaping from my room and getting as far as the locked front door before calling for a ladder to climb over it and, if not over and out the door to the yard, a ladder to climb back to my bedroom as the stairs had, somehow, become disassembled. I’ve turned on my shower without removing the stopper thereby flooding the bathroom and, once the water rose out the tiles and covered the floor two inches deep, attempted to suction up the mess with a ridiculously expensive vacuum (it caused a short and broke it, this was less than a year ago). I’ve also awoken in more odd places than I can care to remember. Bathtubs. The stairs. The floor. The kitchen. The living room with the television tuned to Mythbusters. The unfinished section of the basement (yikes). I don’t have any memory of what I do, just patchwork moments that bubble up to the surface as if from underwater. What I know, I piece together from the context of my dream, or, when I was a kid, my mother would fill me in as she’d shock me back to consciousness with a stream of cold water from the showerhead.
A warm afternoon, the beginnings of the flu, and a nap on the couch after school from which I did not wake until dinner was a recipe for disaster, a head-in-a-fishbowl feeling at best or at worst an unconscious wander through the house, beet red in the face with tears streaming down my cheeks as I mumbled incoherently.
Equally luckily, I always seem to focus my sleep-texting energy on my partner of about five years, but there is no queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, like this morning, checking Snapchat to see a little blue arrow by his name stating “opened 36 minutes ago.” What did I say this time?
What are you doing with that knife? I texted once over Skype.
What? Are you ok? he responded.
The knife, I said.
Out of context, cryptic and horrifying. In context, I am standing in a marketplace. There are blue linen-covered stalls all around me. In front of me stands a knife vendor. I pick out a pocket knife that flips inward to resemble a polished oblong egg. I give the vendor my money. He wraps the knife in tissue paper, then closes the join with the end of duct tape from the roll. He wraps the knife in duct tape, over and over and over and over, there is so much tape the package resembles a baseball, now a football, now the tape wraps up his arm, mummifying his body in dull silver. There can’t possibly be this much tape in the roll. What’s happening?
“What are you doing with that knife?” I ask the vendor, concerned.
What are you doing with that knife? I text my partner, cryptically.
Other times, the predictive text takes over to make sense of my keyboard smashing.
Meeting today [sent at 3am last winter, on a weekend]. In all likelihood, what I texted was closer to meeeetg tty, now, super cryptic and embarrassing.
So funny I had a bad dream, I text on March 10, convinced I am awake. I am not. Later I have no memory of these brief moments of semi-consciousness.
A recent text, unedited:
It was very complicated but part of it dream was that whilesleep
walking I published a controversial article about something that got HORRIBLE comments which felt real and upsetting to me because I have a habit ofsleeptext
ing as is. When I woke up I had to check. The other part of the dream was a real basic one. I was at one of those big parties that rents out porta potties only it was before the party so I couldn’t get into them or the regular one when I got a runny nose and lost control of my bladder, the bad dream came to a head when I realized it was MY wedding and I was being sold off to this really old creep
escpae dream, I had to fly to get away, made me sweaty. Sweaty
Sent Saturday, March 10, at 8 a.m. to my partner while 95 to 100 percent totally asleep.
Yikes, he texted back.
I’ve tried sleeping with my phone out of reach, but I have trouble falling asleep in the first place without the wonderful wealth of YouTube relaxation videos titled “forest sounds” or “car noises to calm you down” or “break free from anxiety”. I’ve tried using an alarm clock instead of my phone, but I sleep through an alarm that can be turned off with one hit. (I literally sleepwalk out of bed, across the room, hit the alarm and walk back without breaking stride in my dream of a haunted hotel with no windows, only doors.)
Sleeping with the lights on helps decrease the vivid, immersive nature of my dreams which in turn makes for a less active Allyson. Fewer nightmares, less stress-induced sleepwalking, less chance for sleep texting. Phone positioned face down behind an obstacle course of drinking glasses, less chance I’ll navigate through the maze. However, the fewer notes I write to myself during the night, less material to use during the day.
Sent to Mars in a box. Lake without water but I am on a boat flying through it. Escape back to earth hiding under the ship sink. I am a yolk in a fiberglass eggshell. [The text dissolves into a complicated mix of reactionary emotions and rudimentary drawings, drawn so thickly they cut through the notebook paper I leave by my pillow.]
Thanks for effectively writing two chapters of my novel, me from the past.
Does anyone else do this? Am I the only one?
As a general rule of thumb, if you receive a text from me from, say, before 9 a.m., please disregard.
As to what I texted my partner this morning, with no memory of picking up the phone:
Have a nice day at work.