The Village Phantom -or- Sleepwalking in the Global Village

Parasomnias -or- Is Sleep the Guardian of the Dream?

Sleepwalkers have most likely been with us for many thousands of years, perhaps they were perceived as phantoms or possessed by an evil demon by some. A host of behaviours including murder have been commited while sleepwalking. The theme of sleepwalking can be found in art, literature, theatre, film and true crime. Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth was a sleepwalker. From a modern medical perspective sleepwalking is a sleep disorder, more specifically a parasomnia.

Doing a keyword search of the IIIDR database, the word "walk" is used in 20% of dreams. People appear always on the move. If we include the keyword "run", we add another 7% of dreams. The keyword "going" is found in over 20% of dreams, people appear to be always on the move, going places. (It is possible that some dreams contain all three keywords.) 

One young woman sent this comment about a dream posted at the IIDR website; "I was reading the dream interpretations and one caught my eye. The dreamer called Manuel - 24 - Argentinian male. His brother expressed the feeling of being awake and not being able to move. I have had this experience myself many times and always thought it was what is known as sleep paralysis. i.e. the opposite of sleep walking." Here is the interpretation "Sleep Paralysis -or- The Living Dead in Argentina".

My interest in sleep disorder phenomena such as sleepwalking and sleep paralysis has been marginal, yet I recognize that they exist. Other sleep phenomena which I have experienced myself such as "lucid dreaming", "hypnogogic" and "hypnopompic" dreams, and "night terrors" have held more interest. I did have a client who had narcolepsy and another who suffered from sleep apnea. Other sleep and dream phenomena such as out of body experiences, sleep talking have also been reported to the IIDR. The question could be asked in how far these sleep phenomena constitute global homeostatic changes in the circadian sleep-wake rhythm

When falling sleep, the brain starts shuting down the activity of the body, during the onset of the dreaming phase of sleep, REM atonia shuts down the muscles of the body. If muscle atonia does not occur, REM behaviour disorders are the result, in this state, people start acting out what they are dreaming without waking up. As I have discussed in "Hypnotic Experiments in Dreaming" questions can be asked; is sleep the guardian of the dream, or, is the dream the guardian of sleep as Freud suggested?



All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.