Canada
3 min

It’s beginning to look a lot like Europe

I am a parasomniac. A form of sleepwalking, parasomnia is a disorder that involves abnormal behaviours and movements while you are in REM sleep. For the past quarter-century I have been sleep-eating my way through my pantry. As it turns out, also through the pantries of my friends and family when I happen to spend the night.

Now normally this would be a non-issue since I rarely sleep anywhere but home unless I have “enjoyed” myself too much, in which case whatever I have imbibed in normally keeps me in bed. But, since we’ve started the couch-surfing-in-our-own city-portion of the adventure, this parasomnia thing is proving to be a bit tricky.

At our home we have finally learned to deal with it. We keep no sweets, no savoury snacks and a moderate amount of available protein (salami, cheese, etc). It makes it more challenging at the snacking hour of a normal person’s day, sometime between dinner and bed, but makes me a much happier person in the morning when I haven’t consumed half a pie, an entire sleeve of crackers and a leftover hamburger. On the nights when things are really bad though, I can easily be up a handful of times, scavenging for something to nosh on. But with nothing really around I tend to go back to bed.

About 10 years ago, after I spent a night at the Sunnybrook Sleep Clinic, I was officially diagnosed. They tried to come up with a bunch of reasons, but the best they got was that parasomnia is exacerbated by stress. Not so great for a gal who works in a deadline-driven industry and is always in production. As deadlines approached, the more times during the night I was in the kitchen the more I tried to eat the less sleep I got. It’s an unfortunate cycle.

Seeing as how we are now less than two weeks from departure for a yearlong adventure where we have little financial safety net and I have nowhere to live in March, the cycle is running on overdrive.

Now that our personal belongings are in storage we are staying at a friend’s house on the Danforth while they are away spending a warm holiday vacation in Mexico. I’ve been there only twice as they recently moved in and one could safely say I am not all that familiar with the layout of the house. At three storeys, with the bedroom on the third and the kitchen on the first, you would think that nighttime eating thing would be too difficult. In my sleep, in a house that I don’t know, with an extensive hike involved you would assume that my body would give up. At least that’s what I thought.

Night one I consumed one chocolate pudding, three mini-croissants, two turkey sticks, a handful of salt and vinegar chips, some shredded cheese and a coke. How I got to the kitchen in the dark without falling down the gazillion stairs I will never know. But on night two I had it so down pat that I managed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, finish the previous dinner’s leftovers and finish off with two granola bars and four After Eights. At this rate by the time I leave this town I will have to shop for a whole new wardrobe.

In two days we move into our last couch surfing location until we leave in January. They know about my sleep issues, but I’m not sure whether I am going to remind them. I have found that when I tell people that I might be wandering through their house in the middle of the night in a manner of undress that they tend to want to talk about it. When I tell them I will be raiding their pantry, they are even more fascinated and want me to tell them about the craziest thing I have ever eaten in my sleep (raw venison) and does my wife wake up and try to coerce me to come back to bed (not since I gave her the evil eye one night when she woke me when I was in the kitchen already).

The doctors say I have been sleep deprived for 24 years, which explains a lot. So while we travel Europe and live in our own little apartments (the way to go as a grownup) footloose and fancy free without day jobs, I plan to make up for it.