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Stage Set for First Ever Somnalympics

PISTOL CREEK JUNCTION -- The finishing touches on Glock Arena are nearly complete and competitors are beginning to gather for the Summer Somnalympics, the first ever athletic competition for sleepwalkers.

"This has been a dream of mine for nearly a decade," said sports enthusiast, somnambulist and organizer Ned Knarkavich, who has devoted the last nine and a half years of his life to making this dream a reality. "We are sports lovers, too, and we want to compete just like regular people -- and we now can."

Young Knarkavich was inspired by the 1988 acquittal of Canadian Kenneth Parks, who said he was sleepwalking when he drove 14 miles, stabbed his mother-in-law to death and seriously injured his father-in-law. In 1981, an Arizona man, Steven Steinberg, also used the "sleepwalking" defense successfully when he claimed that he was temporarily insane when stabbing his wife 26 times because he could not remember any of he crime.

"Parks and Steinberg show that sleepwalkers are very capable of performing high level tasks," said Adjunct Professor of Psychology Gunther Uberflassen, who heads the Mudcat Falls Community College Center for the Study of Sleep Disorders. "And these games will prove to the world that somnambulists can lead useful productive lives."

Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is a common arousal disorder that is especially prevalent among children. Sleepwalkers are aroused out of their deep sleep during motor activity, which usually includes, but is not limited to, walking. Sleepwalkers are usually unaware of their activity. What causes sleepwalking is not known, though most people have sleepwalked on at least one occasion and experts estimate that the disorder regularly afflicts 10-15% of the U.S. population.

The games will include all the standard track and field events, except the javelin throw, which was scrubbed because it could present a hazard to spectators, due to the generally poor aim of consciousness challenged competitors. Somnatheltes train by imposing sleep deprivation and stress inducing activities to increase their sleepwalking stamina.

ESPN, GSN, Fox Reality Channel, Comedy Central and MTV all expressed interest in broadcasting the events, but since awakening is an automatic disqualification, the light level within Glock Arena will be too low for the games to be televised. Instead, the games will be carried live on WMFM-FM radio.

Infrared instant replays will be shown on the arena Jumbotron.

The games are being sponsored by Serta, Sominex and Roche Pharmaceuticals, maker of the Valium brand of diazepam which is commonly used to treat sleep disorders.



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