The dangerous and even deadly results of sleepwalking.
The mysterious world of sleepwalking is often portrayed as harmless or even amusing. But in reality, it can be dangerous and sometimes, even deadly.
In Iowa City, Iowa, Jarod Allgood was a talented football player during his waking hours and a habitual sleepwalker at night. According to Jarod’s mother, BeckyAllgood, it all began when Jarod was a young boy:
When Jarod went to college, his sleepwalking continued. But nothing serious happened until the night of February 9, 1993.
Jarod got out of bed and ran out of his apartment. His eyes were wide open, but he was not awake. He ran more than a mile barefoot on the icy pavement. Witnesses later reported that he sprinted with the intensity of a runner at the finish line.
Dr. Mark Mahowald studies sleep disorders:
Somehow in his sleep, Jarod managed to weave around parked cars and turn corners. Then he ran in front of a moving car and was struck. Jarod died instantly. Initially, authorities speculated that he had committed suicide. Jarod’s mother didn’t buy it. She talked to her son’s roommate and learned that Jarod was having a recurring dream about running in a race.
Becky recalls what the roommate told her:
Some might dismiss this as just a coincidence. But Jarod was killed as he was running down a road that leads to the town of Bertrum.
Becky Allgood was absolutely convinced that her son had not taken his own life.
In the end, authorities also agreed. Jarod Allgood became the first person in Iowa history whose death was attributed to sleepwalking.
Like Jarod, Heidee Ruiz is a chronic sleepwalker:
Also like Jarod, Heidee is a dedicated athlete. In 1991, she was attending college on a track and field scholarship and felt a tremendous pressure to perform. That pressure seemed to seep into her dreams and she once found herself running while sleepwalking:
Bonnie-Kay Calder, Heidee’s mother, witnessed two of the most violent episodes:
Heidee once injured herself while sleepwalking:
The impact tore open Heidee’s forehead. She gashed her wrist as she fell to the floor.
Heidee was examined by Dr. Clete Kushida of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic & Research Center:
Dr. Kushida could find no physiological causes for Heidee’s sleepwalking. But he was able to pinpoint what is likely to trigger an episode:
Both Heidee Ruiz and Jarod Allgood fit that pattern. Their sleepwalking flared up under heavy emotional pressure and lack of sleep. Heidee now has her sleepwalking condition under control through medication and careful stress management.
Although the world of sleep and dreams has been the subject of decades of extensive research, scientists are still left with more questions than answers.