Coke’s recent “Sleepwalker” ad had a whimsical, humorous tone. In contrast, the new movie “In My Sleep” examines the darker side of sleepwalking.
The movie’s tagline is, “Sleepwalking can be deadly.” And the film is rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence and bloody images.
The plot was inspired by real sleepwalking stories, first-time director Allen Wolf said in a press kit. He also wrote and produced the movie.
“I had read many stories about people who had done all kinds of horrifying things while they were sleepwalking,” Wolf said. “The idea that someone could do virtually anything while sleepwalking and have no conscious memory of it was fascinating to me.
“I thought that most of us could relate to feeling like a part of our lives is out of control. I wanted to take that to the next level – what if you lost control of yourself when you were sleeping? That idea drew me to the story.”
In terms of its medical accuracy, the movie appears to be a little loose with the details. The main character is diagnosed with “parasomnia, a rare sleep disorder.”
“Parasomnia” is actually a classification of a dozen specific sleep disorders. Some of them are rare, but others are quite common. All of them involve undesired behaviors during sleep.
Nightmare disorder. Sleepwalking. Sleep terrors. Confusional arousals. Sleep paralysis. Hallucinations. Sleep-related eating disorder. These are some examples of parasomnias.
But in general, the movie is right: Sleepwalking can be a dangerous problem. Some people with REM sleep behavior disorder take sleepwalking to the extreme. They act out vivid, action-packed dreams while remaining asleep. They may shout, punch, kick, run and even jump out a window.
Other people may sleepwalk as a side effect of taking a sleeping pill. In 2007 the FDA requested that a warning about the risk of “complex sleep-related behaviors” be added to the product labeling of all sedative hypnotics.
You can get help for a parasomnia at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you. The AASM offers these Guidelines for Taking Sleep Medications.
Read more about parasomnias. The 2005 documentary “Sleep Runners” tells the true stories of people who suffer from parasomnias.