15 Stories That Show the Real Danger of Sleepwalking

During deep sleep, some people walk or do something truly outrageous and dangerous, even if they weren't asleep. Check out these stories.

Young Woman's Feet with Plant On Floor or Ground Background Great For Any Use.

What to do with a sleepwalker

Anyone who gets up and walks around during deep sleep can wind up in danger. Luckily, most sleepwalkers wake up before they can cause themselves or others harm. And it’s a myth that you shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker, according to Chris Brantner, a certified Sleep Science Coach from SleepZoo.com. He recommends approaching sleepwalkers gently and calmly directing them back to bed. Let’s get to the stories.

The man's hand opens the window. Ventilating a house in hot weather.
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He was trying to save himself

Comedian Mike Birbiglia was on tour in Washington state when he had a dream that a guided missile was heading toward his hotel room, reports NPR. In Birbiglia’s dream, he decided to jump out the window in order to save himself. In real life, Birbiglia nearly made it out the window of his hotel room while still in the midst of deep sleep. His room was on the second floor, and the landing could have been fatal had he not woken up before making the leap.

Hole in broken shattered security glass, insurance, security, vandalism or crime concept, shape of Czech Republic

Causing chaos

Marcia Moran, who is 47 and lives in Massachusetts, tells Reader’s Digest that in her lifetime of sleepwalking, she’s left the house and visited neighbors, kicked holes through doors, punched out windows, initiated arguments with her husband, and reported fictitious emergencies to the police—all while having utterly no idea of what she was doing or why, and no recollection upon waking. Find out the surprising habits that lead to sleepwalking.

Couple sweet on the bed


Quora user Zed reports that during his “busiest” sleepwalking years (mostly in his 20s and early 30s), he often had sex while sleeping. As for how many times, he really has no idea, but he and his girlfriend at the time had to warn female guests staying over.

Dirty bare feet of a sleeping person showing out of the blanket on a bed

Sleepwalking barefoot down the street

“One morning I woke up and found I had something black and sticky on the soles of my feet,” reports Quora user, Mickie Southam. She hadn’t sleepwalked in years, but it turned out her habit had started up again. Neighbors a few houses down had just had their driveway freshly tarred, and when Southam walked down the street to catch the bus that morning, she saw her own footprints going up and down the newly tarred drive. Don’t miss these other strange things that happen to your body while you sleep.

Stairs on the boardwalk covered with ice from the cold Russian winter
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A steep and cold descent

Quora user Lisa Noyb owes her life to her brother: He woke her from a potentially tragic sleepwalking episode when she was just eight. “It was in the middle of winter in Canada,” Noyb explains, and the weather was well below freezing. Her brother woke up to find Noyb barefoot in nothing but a nightgown, poised at the edge of a huge staircase leading from the front porch to the front yard. “I could have broken my neck if I had fallen or slipped, not to mention the freezing cold would have killed me if the staircase didn’t.”

Rainy night in the big city, approaching headlights of car traveling along the avenue. View from the level of the curb on the road
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The loneliness of the long-distance sleepwalker

“My worst one occurred as a teenager,” recalls Quora user, Regilla. “I woke up outside at 2 a.m., in just my underwear. I had somehow managed to unlock the front door and leave the house without waking my family.” But that’s not where it ended. “I had sleepwalked in my underwear about a quarter mile across a busy four-lane road and only woke up because an onlooking driver was frantically honking his horn.” Thankfully, Regilla ended up with nothing more than a few cactus needles stuck to her feet. Find out more about sleep disorders you need to know about.

Clean and Comfortable Hotel Bed

Bunkbed diving

Reddit contributor iceman012 recalls many instances of sleep-jumping off the top of his bunk bed onto the wooden floor below. “It’s not fun,” he notes. “I can’t imagine doing that down a flight of stairs.”

Two woman's bare feet stepping on dry yellow leaves.


One morning, Reddit contributor Emily Starke woke up with dirty feet and leaves in her bed. She never figured out what happened, but she suspects she’d sleepwalked out to the backyard to do some gardening.

Person hugs trunk large tree, close-up
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It goes without saying that climbing trees can be dangerous even when you’re awake. But Reddit contributor Chip Clydesdale recalls waking with scratches all over; his girlfriend told him he’d been trying to climb a tree.

Woman holding baking dish with golden roasted turkey
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Reddit contributor untapped-bEnergy stuffed and cooked an entire turkey while sleeping. He discovered what he’d done when he woke up sitting at the kitchen table, the aroma of a nearly fully-roasted turkey wafting from the oven. Apparently, his roommate was there too. Although the roommate had arrived while he was basting the turkey, the roommate didn’t wake him up—choosing instead to stay with him to make sure he didn’t burn the house down. (And get some tasty turkey with the trimmings, of course.) Find out the funniest things people have said while sleep talking.

Dark Skinned African American Woman in Bath
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Eleanor, 28, who has been sleepwalking since childhood, told the Guardian a particularly jarring sleepwalking story involving a razor and a bathtub full of lukewarm water. She was 21 at the time and woke up at 3 a.m. in a warm bath with a razor in her hand. “I had shaved the bottom half of my left leg,” she recalls. Luckily, she hadn’t cut herself.

Tasty sandwich with ham
Ljiljana Bozovic/Shutterstock


“When I sleepwalk, I commonly do the same thing,” notes Reddit contributor, Yaxax. “I make a really nice sandwich then leave it on the floor and go back to bed.” Making a sandwich might not seem dangerous until you factor in the cutting of the onions and tomatoes and slicing the sandwich in half. Also, eating while sleeping can lead to choking. Here are some more things you should know about sleep.

modern double bedroom with gray wall, great for copy space


Sandwich-making isn’t where the sleepwalking stops for Yaxax, however. There was also the time that he woke up with a severely injured wrist. When he looked around, he figured out what had happened: his headboard had been screwed to the wall, and while Yaxax was sleeping, he ripped it off the wall. Another time, Yaxax piled all his bedroom furniture on his bed. He recalls dreaming that his room was flooding.

feet on black sand beach


“My cousin is a cop,” says one Reddit contributor, “and one time he got a call to stop a person from streaking.” As it turns out, the man was sleepwalking. “The cops didn’t want to wake him, so they just stayed with him and kept him safe. Then they brought him home.” When the sleep-streaker came to the precinct to thank the cops who had saved him, he revealed that he’d been dreaming he was washing his car. Next, find out about 15 other crazy sleepwalking stories that actually happened in real life.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers health, fitness, yoga, and lifestyle, among other topics. An author of crime fiction, Lauren's book The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.