Folks at a middle school in Greensburg, Pa., got an unexpected day off this week when a seventh-grade student reportedly sleepwalked into the school around 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 21, according to CBS Pittsburgh. The student appeared to have gotten into Wendover Middle School by pushing through a screen, and when he woke up inside the school, he called 9-1-1. For folks who have experience with sleepwalking, this scenario may not be a far-fetched one, but officials approached the situation with caution, CBS Pittsburgh reported, closing Wendover Middle School for the day and "[sweeping] for any potential problems."
After "extensive searches," Wendover was cleared, with classes scheduled to resume Feb. 22. Pittsburgh's Action News 4 added that "there were no clear signs of vandalism or theft," but that state troopers "have not said whether the student will face charges." Officials' caution in handling the reported sleepwalking situation may be in part due to the fact that another Wendover student was recently arrested — a 13-year-old male student who allegedly threatened to shoot a female student, CBS Pittsburgh reported, though according to a statement from the school district, there is "no connection" between the two events.
The alleged threat came less than one week after the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School. Trooper Stephan Limani, of Pennsylvania State Police, told CBS Pittsburgh that the Wendover student who had allegedly issued the threat "[had] been arrested and is being held in the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center."
As far as sleepwalking goes, allegedly breaking into one's school is certainly not the oddest thing that a sleepwalker has done. It's estimated, according to a recent study, that about 3.6 percent of U.S. adults sleepwalk, which works out to about 8.4 million, according to CBS News. Dr. Maurice Ohayon, the Stanford-based researcher who authored the study, told USA TODAY, "I would like to correct the impression that sleepwalking is rare. This is a huge number of people."
Previous numbers indicated 2 percent of the population are sleepwalkers, "with U.S. estimates dating back 30 years," CBS reported.
With so many sleepwalkers among us, it's no surprise some have wild — and sometimes harrowing — stories of what they do when they're asleep. Of course, there are some who report doing totally mundane things. In a series of self-reported sleepwalking incidents posted on Reddit and collected by Men's Health, one respondent said, "When I sleep walk [sic] I commonly do the same thing, make a really nice sandwich then leave it on the floor and go back to bed."
Another reported, "I cleaned, sorted, and rearranged my best friend's fridge so that I could fit her dog's 25lb bag of food inside."
Food-themed sleepwalking episodes appear to be common. "My GF ate a large block of sharp cheddar stark naked. It was awesome," said one respondant, while another admitted to having gotten up in the middle of the night to stuff and cook a turkey.
But then there are the dangerous incidents, both for sleepwalkers and their loved ones. The Guardian collected stories from U.K. residents, one of whom, Peter Langdon, said he often falls out of bed, and experiences vivid dreams that can play into what he does when sleepwalking. "[I'm] constantly dragging my girlfriend out of bed as I'm convinced the front of the house is falling off," he said. Another time, "[I found] myself on a ledge on the first floor of my barracks chasing a thief who did not exist."
Another respondant, Eleanor, told The Guardian she once awoke "at 3am [sic] in a bath full of lukewarm water with a razor in my hand. I had shaved the bottom half of my left leg. Luckily I hadn't cut myself." She added that she lived alone, and that the incident was "terrifying." "I could have died and no one would have known until the next morning," she said.
According to WebMD, "there is no known way to absolutely prevent sleepwalking." The site recommends mitigating actions like making sure your sleeping environment doesn't have dangerous objects and putting an alarm on your bedroom door so it will wake you if you try to leave.
All things considered, trying to go to school while sleepwalking doesn't seem too strange.