AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Dreaming in Reality

Everybody has heard of sleep walking, yet, being that it is one of the most common sleep ‘disorders’ out there, it has never been viewed as a problem or even something that is medically related. Because of this, sleeping walking has been kept out of medical research for the last several decades. A recent poll shows that 1 in 3  Americans  have ‘sleep walked,’ but none of these people seek medical attention. While there is nothing harmful about unconsciously standing up in the middle of the night here and there, a new study shows otherwise.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, or simply a serious case of sleep walking, is something that effects millions of Americans across the country. This form of parasomnia is much more serious than normal ‘sleep walking’ and can be dangerous. Usually when someone sleep walks the brain sends out signals to move but the neurons that enable movement are inactive; so while it may feel like one is moving during a dream, you are still stationary. For the percentage of people that have REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, this ‘blockage’ that prevents actual movement vanishes. While in the Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep, the neurons can make the required connections, and movement is possible. Not just the simple movement involved in everyday ‘sleep walking,’ but full, brain controlled motor skills. In other words, what ever someone with the REM disorder is doing in their dreams can carry over into actual actions that cannot be controlled.

Picture this: a man is having a normal dream, well then again not many dreams are normal. In dreams we have no control of the “rational” side of our brain, only the emotional. To make matters worse, while in this state one may have full control of the senses, such as sight and touch, but all of the decisions would be being made subconsciously while the we are the deepest kind of sleep there is. While dreaming of doing something stupid may seem like something harmless, it can be everything but if it happened in reality. For instance, a man is dreaming about a missile chasing him. Seems crazy right? Not for a dream. Things that seem like nonsense while awake make perfect sense to the dreaming mind, even a flying missile headed strait for us. In a movie based on real life events based on the REM disorder a man stood up mid REM sleep and actually jumped through a window in his home to avoid this missile that was nothing but a figment of his imagination. Although this was obviously dramatized, nothing about it is impossible or even unlikely. Several doctors have started diagnosing people with the disorder, dubbing it as something that can be very dangerous in certain situations.


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  1. henroids

    A very common myth about sleepwalking is that it is dangerous to wake people up when they are sleepwalking. But according to it is not dangerous to wake some up while they are sleepwalking. Although it isn’t unheard of for someone to become aggressive when woken up, most people are just disoriented and confused when woken. So next time you see someone sleepwalking don’t be afraid to wake them up if they are about to do something dangerous. But when in doubt guide them back to a safe place like their bed or the nearest couch.

  2. Sleep Deprived

    An interesting, informative and helpful perspective on a complex and not-well-understood disorder. Thanks for this addition to a topic that can always benefit by new insight.

  3. jk1234

    I never realized sleep walking was such a huge issue. Another issue related to REM sleep is sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can lead to a host of problems. Read more at:

  4. hannahbanana

    Great article! Although, it did make me a little uneasy: I have slept walked before. If you or your child sleep walk, here are some tips…
    To help keep your sleepwalker out of harm’s way:

    – Try not to wake a sleepwalker because this might scare your child. Instead, gently guide him or her back to bed.
    -Lock the windows and doors, not just in your child’s bedroom but throughout your home, in case your young sleepwalker decides to wander. You may consider extra locks or child safety locks on doors. Keys should be kept out of reach for kids who are old enough to drive.
    -To prevent falls, don’t let your sleepwalker sleep in a bunk bed.
    -Remove sharp or breakable things from around your child’s bed.
    -Keep dangerous objects out of reach.
    -Remove obstacles from your child’s room and throughout your -home to prevent a stumble. Especially eliminate clutter on the floor (i.e., in your child’s bedroom or playroom).
    -Install safety gates outside your child’s room and/or at the top of any stairs.

    Good luck and stay safe!

  5. evolucious

    I have never experienced anything like this and hope I never will. However, sleepwalking seems to affect a good portion of the population for it to be so well-known. Causes include stress, heart condition, psychiatric conditions, and genetics. Read more at:

  6. thephilosopher

    Interesting! This is a little frightening, to be honest. A friend of mine spent along time writing his dreams down in a journal. Eventually, he was able to lucid dream whenever he wanted. So if that missile was chasing him, he could turn it into a stallion and ride it off into the sunset. Of course, he was pretty heavily dosed on anxiety medication, so perhaps it isn’t worth it.

  7. troybolton

    Cool! After reading this article I think that my dad should see a doctor! Contributing the point about things being seen normal in a dream, this could be related to Lucid dreaming. This is when a person is aware that they are dreaming and they take control the dream. If someone is trying to reenact a Civil War battle in their dream, it would be quite dangerous for them to be sleep walking. Doctors think that this is also could be related to REM sleep due to the fact that the brain is most active during this time, while sleeping of course. I think that it would be pretty cool to be able to control my dreams. Imagine what you could do!

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