Are You Suffering From Sleep Drunkenness?

Have you ever experienced a moment where you suddenly wake up from a deep slumber and don’t know where you are or what you are doing?

You might be experiencing a not uncommon condition which is called sleep drunkenness or confusional arousal. Since this condition affects 1 in 7 people or roughly 15% of the population, it’s time to gather as much information as you can especially if you or a loved one is suffering from this.

What Is Sleep Drunkenness?

If you’re acting very strange or confused just after waking up, you may blame it on a sleep disorder called sleep drunkenness or confusional arousal.

People who are suffering from this condition may appear confused and bewildered of where they are or what they are doing. Their behavior may include:

  • Confused thinking
  • Slow speech
  • Blunt responses to requests or questions
  • Poor memory

During the state of sleep drunkenness, the person may seem to be awake even though their state of mind is foggy. This occurs when a person wakes from slow-wave sleep, which is most common in the first third of the night. Most episodes are often triggered by a forced awakening and in some cases, a person may exhibit amnesia or violent behavior.

Your risk of having sleep disorder is higher if you have a relative who has this sleep disorder as well. Other factors that can trigger or increase your risk are:

  • Graveyard shift work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Other sleep disorders such as insomnia, hypersomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorders
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depressive and bipolar disorder

Potential causes of confusional disorder may include the following:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Recovery from sleep deprivation
  • Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Drug abuse
  • Psychotropic medication use
  • Being forced to wake up

Both men and women have the same risk of experiencing sleep drunkenness while number of cases is high among children and adults under 35 years old. About 17% of children have this condition while 3%-4% of adults have experienced it.

The Latest Studies of Sleep Drunkenness

According to a new study that was published in the August 26 issue of the journal Neurology, approximately 15% of the population – or about 1 in 7 people – have occasionally suffered from this sleep disorder.  

Maurice Ohayon, a director of the Sleep Epidemiology Research Center at Stanford University and co-authored the said study, explained that sleep drunkenness goes beyond the usual rousted feeling from deep sleep that most of us feel. He further added that most people can’t remember anything that they said or did while on this sleeping condition. Most episodes last for less than 15 minutes while a small percentage of people who are experiencing this disorder become violent.

Ohayon and his colleagues have found that about 8% of the 15% figure that suffers from sleep drunkenness has weekly bouts of this sleep disorder while the rest experience it very occasionally – like once or twice a year. Furthermore, they explained that your risk for sleep drunkenness increases if you are depressed or anxious, taking psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, drinking alcohol, or getting too little or too much sleep. Their research also shows that any mental health disorders or sleeping problems can increase your risk of this sleep disorder.

Can You Prevent or Relieve It? How?

If you are worried that you might experience sleep drunkenness, worry no more as there are certain ways that you can prevent it.

One of the best ways to avoid this condition is by getting the right amount of sleep. And by sleep, we mean quality sleep. Though you may get 7-8 hours of sleep every day, quality sleep may be much less. Having quality sleep means that you are getting enough time in the restorative deep sleep stages.

If you want to improve the quality of your sleep, follow these tips below:

  • Make a pre-bed time routine – There are plenty of reasons why most of us are not getting quality sleep. It could be due to fatigue, stress, anxiety or too much food or caffeine before bedtime. By creating a routine before you hit the sack, you are sending a signal to your body that bedtime is coming. Turn off all electronic devices an hour before bedtime. Some find that lighting on scented candles is effective in putting them to sleep.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night – Workloads, home works and other stuff can wait. Give your body the ample amount of rest that it deserves so that you wake up with more energy and achieve more productivity the next day.
  • Repay your debt sleep – There are times that you really need to put off sleep. This can take a toll on your body though as not getting enough sleep can lead to exhaustion. Make sure that you make up for lost hours of sleep.

What Should You Do If Someone You Love Has Sleep Drunkenness?

If your child is having an episode of this condition, make sure to stay calm and avoid having a panic reaction as this will just scare your child. Never wake your child up, instead, keep an eye on him to ensure that he is protected and safe from danger. Continue monitoring your child until he goes back to sleep.

For adults, aside from getting a good amount of quality sleep, you should help them decrease or stop consuming alcoholic beverages. Avoid or decrease taking sleeping pills and antidepressants as well.

It is important that no matter what age you are in, consult a sleep specialist especially if this condition leads to serious problems. Create a sleep diary for at least two weeks before consulting a doctor; this will be one of the bases to determine the cause of your sleep problem. You should also take note of all the medications and drugs that you have taken. Always consult with your doctor first before you start any form of treatment for confusional arousal or sleep drunkenness. 

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