August 3 saw the death of one-half of one of Canada’s best-known talk show hosts in Chris Hyndman, but there is now speculation — at least, from his mother Glenda — that it was her son’s frequent sleepwalking that ultimately caused his death. Nothing has yet been proven regarding Hyndman’s death, but Glenda said, “Christopher was a sleepwalker, and he did that a lot. He even ate in his sleep,” in the August 6 edition of the Toronto Star. Some may now be concerned that sleepwalking is actually far more risky a behavior than once believed.
Kate Sell, who lives in the U.K., knows how dangerous somnambulism, also known as sleepwalking, can truly be. She recently experienced 10 fractures in her back and a broken wrist in addition to other injuries following a sleepwalking incident that saw her falling down the stairs. She says that she has been told she may never walk again.
Sleepwalking has been considered a “disorder of arousal” and can affect one to 15 percent of the population, according to the Sleep Foundation. According to Glenda Hyndman, late talk show host Chris Hyndman‘s mother, sleepwalking was something Hyndman had dealt with most of his life. Generally speaking, sleepwalking affects children ages 3 to 7, though sleep deprivation may trigger the nighttime activity.
According to Toronto Police, there is no suspicious activity related to Hyndman’s death, and experts have said that it is inherently a dangerous activity. Sunnybrook Hospital sleep neurologist Brian Murray said that he had yet to encounter someone who had died while sleepwalking, but he was more than familiar with people who had experienced falls or other traumatic injury while sleepwalking and had gone to the hospital for treatment. Dr. Colin Shapiro, a University of Toronto professor and director of the Youthdale Child & Adolescent Sleep Clinic, says that anything that could cause your sleep to deepen — whether that’s alcohol, sleep medication of any form, or illness — could spark conditions that would be ideal for someone to start sleepwalking.
“Anything that increases the depth of your sleep — so that could be sleep medication, that could be alcohol, that could be exercise, that could be staying awake too long,” Shapiro said.
Sleepwalking has also been claimed as a defense in Canada for murder and sexual assault. In 1991, Kenneth Parks was acquitted of the murder of his mother-in-law because he said he was sleepwalking while the act was committed, and a retrial has been ordered in the case of a Brockville, Ontario, Canada man who has appealed his sexual assault conviction on the grounds he was sleepwalking while the act was committed.
Regardless of what interesting activities can occur while sleepwalking, if Chris Hyndman did, indeed, fall to his death while sleepwalking, it would be a terrible end to one of Canada’s most enduring couples, both off and on the air.
[Photo courtesy of www.emedicalnews.com]