Confused when you wake up? You might have “sleep drunkenness”

August 26, 2014
August 26, 2014

If you feel or behave strangely when suddenly roused from slumber, you may have a disorder known in the medical world as confusional arousal—described far more vividly by its alternative name, “sleep drunkenness.”

According to a new study, as many as one in seven people might suffer from the disorder, which is characterized by confusion, amnesia, and even violent behavior during the moments of their waking up.

Researchers surveyed more than 19,000 U.S. adults about their sleeping habits, mental illness diagnoses, and medications they were on. They found that 15% of people had experienced sleep drunkenness in the past year—with more than half of them reporting that they had experienced an episode within the past week. The study was published in the journal Neurology.

Sleep drunkenness appeared to be highly correlated with existing conditions. Some 84% of people who reported episodes had another sleep disorder, a mental health disorder, or took psychotropic medication.

Maurice Ohayon, the lead author of the study and a sleep expert at Stanford University, said he was glad the study could shed light on the disorder. “These episodes of confused awakening have not gotten much attention, but given that they occur at a high rate in the general population, more research should be done on when they occur and whether they can be treated,” he said in a news release about the study. “People with sleep disorders or mental health issues should also be aware that they may be at greater risk of these episodes.”

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