High Point, N.C. - A High Point University student told police he thinks he was "sleep driving" when he drove his SUV into Oak Hollow Lake Tuesday morning.
The student says he has no memory of getting behind the wheel and only woke up when his vehicle hit the water. Police are treating this as medical situation and don't think drugs or alcohol are involved.
"As far as sleep driving is concerned, it can happen. But, that's a more complex set of negotiations that one has to go through. To have it being done while a person is actually sleeping is a bit unusual," Dr. Greg D. Mieden, Director of Regional Physicians Neuroscience Sleep Lab, said.
Doctors at the Regional Physicians Neuroscience Center treat sleep disorders every day. Patients can spend the night there. Doctors monitor patients throughout the evening to determine what could be causing the sleep issues.
Sleep driving is rare. However, talking or eating in your sleep is pretty common. Even though you are asleep, your brain can actually be pretty active.
"You can have a very common disorder called sleep eating where you can get up and perform quite intricate tasks...for example, making fried eggs. Most people don't actually cook. What they'll do is go in and forge in the refrigerator. Most of the time, they'll look for sweet things," Dr. Mieden said. "Your body is not paralyzed when you sleep. Sleep is an interesting set of physiological changes in the brain. Your brain is not in a coma. Your brain is actually active. In fact, during dreaming, your brain is more active physiologically than when you're awake."
For more information on Sleep Disorders, visit www.RegionalPhysicians.com or call Regional Physicians Neuroscience Center at (336) 889-8877. When choosing a sleep center, doctors recommend selecting a center that is certified and accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
WFMY News 2 also interviewed Dr. Priya Paruchuri, another sleep expert. To watch the interview, click on the video in this article.
Bethany Medical Center sent WFMY News 2 two tests given to patients inquiring about sleep disorders.
Document: Epworth Sleepiness Scale
Document: Sleep Intake Questionnaire