Monday, January 28, 2008

Sleep-Writing

Got an insignificant, or as it seemed from the ‘Esteem’ brought by Pepsi.

It was a cold winter night of 1998; the clock would have read past two. I was at the dining-turned-study table, had a hot cup of coffee alongside. Working out some mechanics problem from Irodov was the last I remember before falling asleep. When I woke up a half-hour later, I found myself face down on the diary I used to maintain then (which I later destroyed page-by-page because it was full of depressing stuff), the above sentence scrawled over it, and cold unfinished coffee spilled on the table. I have absolutely no idea what does the sentence mean, even though I wrote it.

Somniscription. [sŏm-nĭ-skrĭp'shən] -noun.

Under the larger category of parasomnias, the act of writing while the sufferer is asleep or in a sleeplike state; generally occurs earlier in the night when rapid eye movement (REM) or the ‘dream stage’ of sleep has not yet occurred.

[Origin: 2008; from L. somnus “sleep” + scriptus, pp. of scribere “to write”].

The sentence makes no sense, is grammatically incorrect, and the words Esteem and Pepsi are ambiguous. Crap, in short. You don’t expect expert verse from someone who is fast asleep. Like other sleep-related disorders, a somniscribe is not aware of his actions in sleep.

Somniscription is quite rare a phenomenon, which can be ascertained from the fact that I could not find any word on the world-wide-web that describes sleep-writing. Or maybe it is included in the larger umbrella of somnambulism, sleep-walking, which however, clearly includes sleep-eating and sleep-sex (BTW, what’s the fun if you don’t know you are doing it?). The only two resources talking about sleep writing I could google out were:
  • this page from Encyclopedia Britannica, which talks about people writing in sleep with a mental picture of the page before them and the words they have written. They do not see what they actually write, and the page talks about an experiment that proves this.
  • this blogpost by one Joel Derfner, where the linguist-turned-musician- turned-aerobics instructor wonders if he was actually setting up e-mail accounts in his sleep and e-mailing himself entries for his own Blogalike contest. He tries to come up with a word equivalent to somnambulate that meant writing in sleep but finds ‘somniscribe’ revolting.
I never had somnambulism or somniloquy, and not even the act by the word I just coined—somniscription. This was one isolated incident that happened, and I don’t think it might happen again; I have anyways become addicted to technology and no longer use a pen and paper to write. Yeah, maybe some day I wake up on my laptop to find I typed a post on my blog while sleeping, in which case I’ll have to come up with another term.

See also: Searching the net about somnambulism and somniloquism led me to a few interesting people who’ve recorded their sleep-talks and uploaded them on their blogs:

Somnography of Somniloquy
Sleep Talking On The Mic
Somniloquy Revelation

21 comments:

Violet said...

Interesting.. I read that sentence 3 times to make sense out of it, finally gave up and proceeded to the post only to realize that the author himself couldn't comprehend it :)

KT said...

well a line or two before and after this line might have also helped, but since the author cudn't figure it out, good chance that no one else can ....

and I too with little search didn't find any word for this ... except that most of the people used sleep-writing...

I tried ur links and I must say that Britannica can still do better at redesigning their page that it can atleast be readable by cursory movements....

oh, I think I am being a little off the mark, but psychologists use this technique, they ask you to not bother about anything, grammar, coherent thoughts, lines or para and just scribble any word that comes to mind in rapid succession. They try to judge ur current state of psyche with that!!

Rishabh Makrand said...

I think this is the 2nd or 3rd post from Ashutosh on sleep..
good that you coined "somniscription" and gave one more word to english.

but your post and your act not only limited to that..coz if you give a closer look to the 1st para of this post you also did(may be) sleep-walking to reach your diary & pen. some other acts to close the I.E Irodov book(or may be keeping your diary above that so that you can write on it)

And about Parasomnia(act of night walking and etc etc)..As far as I know.. Parasomnia are often associated with stress and depression, and biological factors (may be you were at that level as you said that your diary incuded all depressing stuff).Good new for you is, Parasomnia is more common in children than in adults, so dont worry, you wont do such stuff now..lolls...

bhuvan said...

I think this would have happened to many people but they would not have given a serious thought. Its good that u gave it a thought.I think u were dreaming about a cold night in which u had a pepsi. thats all i can make out of this.

sanjay said...

yaar if could write such sentence in your sleep then you have a bright career as great thinkers/scholars, ones with long hairs who always photographed looking at somewhere else and thinking...and see you have already got long hairs, best of luck man :P

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kAy said...

firstly your question on my blog's answer:
open picture in photoshop-
make a new layer on top of the picture (im assuming here you know how to do that)
staying on that layer-go desaturate it ( or what i do it decres the saturation from "hue and saturation completely)
then stay on that top layer make a mask (indicated by the two circles below your layers tab)
then take the eraser tool and erase the areas you want colours in your picture.

got it?

as for this post...go to sleep!!

Anwin said...

Hi. Thanks for participating in the Bangalore bloggers meet scheduled for tomorrow, Feb 16. I would like to confirm your participation and I am looking forward to meeting you in person and other bloggers as well. As of now 50+ bloggers have confirmed their participation. Email me at anwin.at.anw.in or call me on 9880518019 for anything regarding the bloggers meet.

ashes said...

Violet:

:) Yeah I know how would it have felt. But am glad you made the effort thrice :)

ashes said...

KT:

Well, that was the only sentence I could write while sleeping.

I agree with you on Britannica. The page looks like one straight from the old paper encyclopedia.

Thats a nice technique. However, I doubt if you could write propositions and articles for random words, therefore, I feel it would be quite difficult to build sentences like that.

ashes said...

Rishabh:

Thanks for the inputs. Yeah, I seldom close books if I no longer need them--I just open another one above that, and that was what I did with Irodov and my diary. However, I believe I already had the pen in my hand, and since I used to write every night before going to bed, I would have started picking up the diary and then immediately fallen asleep.

ashes said...

Bhuvan:

Well, I doubt if this happens frequently. At least I could not find much on the internet about this happening to people.

Dreaming about a cold night when I had Pepsi, was a funny inference.

ashes said...

Snajay:

Thanks dude. However, you see, my long hair has been cut short now. Looks like I will have to wait for it to grow long again in order to achieve the losing acumen back. :)

ashes said...

Anon:

Thanks for the info. I shall think about it.

ashes said...

kAy:

Thanks for the detailed info. I know about layers and all, and could have figured this way out. You are manually doing this on the pixels of the object. I had thought you had some tool/plugin that automatically detects an object's boundary based on a certain hue. I guess that is how they do it in motion pictures when they leave one object colored and the rest monochrome.

For other readers' info, we are talking about this post of kAy, where she has a monochrome photograph with an orange in orange color.

ashes said...

Anwin:

Thanks for the invitation. The bloggers' meet was indeed fun!

Anonymous said...

I know of someone who sleep writes, your meaning and the encyclopedia meaning could not be right because this person writes in different languages, and she only speaks english, go and read for yourself. www.wisdombeyondbeings.com from that you will have to elaborate on your meaning, for the world to understand.

Anonymous said...

You got a point, I read the sight,www.wisdombeyondbeings very interesting. A miracle I say.

Kraughne said...

I'm really glad you posted this, man. Last night I actually induced somniscription - started writing while very sleepy, and I kept going until I was asleep and writing my dreams.

An excerpt of my somnial rubbish:

"Pie at Disneyland. I asked them about a bomb. They said all that matters is subject matter. Mmm. My hair was like a golden bridge. Don't forget to bring me something. Examine Dad's co-workers' sleeves. There goes Radiohead, 'let down and hanging around'."

The Radiohead lyric is especially curious.

Anyway, writing in your sleep is awesome. It's either nonsense or the secrets of your unconscious mind.

ashes said...

Kraughne:

Man, you have an entire paragraph! Sleep-writing is awesome, you might turn out some jewels while sleeping

What I wonder is, can you train your mind such that you try and write longer verses? And if you could continue the next day where you stopped today? You might be able to write a complete novel in your sleep...Just letting my imagination too far.

Deespeak2989 said...

sumthin like happened to me at work two days ago (that's the reason why i was googling ppl who might've had a similar experience)
i wrote sumthin ineligible but two words stood out "Kennedy" and "School".. even i couldnt make any sense out of that...

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