Waking Up Strange

Ransom Riggs

I've been thinking a lot about sleep lately -- it figures heavily in a story I'm writing -- and the many ways it can go wrong. I'm luckier than many, in that I can usually sleep through the night, I don't snore (much) or suffer from anything dire like sleep apnea or even Restless Leg Syndrome. One thing that happens to me, though, is that as much as I would like to sleep the whole night lying on my back -- the most ergonomic of positions, to my mind -- I never do. I toss and turn without realizing it, and sometimes wake up in some very twisted, and painful, positions.

The closest I ever came to sleepwalking were the hyper-real dreams I used to have as a kid about being in school. Every few nights, I would wake up with my hand raised, waiting to be called on. It was weird, but it wasn't disturbing. But I'll tell you what is disturbing: I'm headed to New Zealand at the end of the week, and to help my wife and I sleep as much as necessary on the plane (something I'm notoriously bad at doing) and thus counteract jet lag a bit, our doctor prescribed us Ambien. Apparently, one pill knocks you out for eight full hours, and when you wake up, you don't feel groggy or drowsy at all. Sounds great!, I thought. Then I read the warning label:

"Some patients taking this medicine have performed certain activities while they were not fully awake. These have included sleep-driving, making and eating food, making phone calls, and having sex. Patients often do not remember these events after they happen."

Any of which could spell trouble on an airplane. Just to be safe, we're doing a trial run tonight to see just how weird it makes us. Do me a favor -- if I sleep-call any of you in the middle of the night, be a pal and let me know!

Anyway, it all makes me wonder -- what's the strangest place you've ever woken up, or the strangest thing you've ever woken up doing?