‘Sleep drunkenness’ affects 1 in 7, mostly sufferers of other disorders

WASHINGTON — “Sleep drunkenness” affects 1 in 7 people, many of them sufferers of mental illness who take medication, a new study shows.

People who suffer from the disorder can awaken feeling confused or behave inappropriately when awoken, such as answer the phone instead of turning off the alarm, according to a news release. Episodes are often triggered by a forced awakening.

The new information, published in the journal Neurology, shines light on the disorder which sometimes sparks violent actions, amnesia and other odd behaviors, according to a news release.

Also referred to as “confusional arousal,” the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says some of the actions include:

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

In all, 19,136 adults were interviewed for the study. Of those with symptoms of sleep drunkenness, 84 percent had either a mental health disorder, took psychotropic drugs like antidepressants or had a sleep disorder.

When it came to mental health disorders, those suffering from bipolar disorder or panic disorder were most affected. Those suffering from sleep apnea were most likely to suffer when compared with other sleep disorders.

Less than 1 percent of those who suffered from sleep drunkenness didn’t have underlying conditions.

“These episodes of waking up confused have received considerably less attention than sleepwalking even though the consequences can be just as serious,” said study author Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, with Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California in a news release.

He says those with mental health problems should know they’re at greater risk for episodes of sleep drunkenness.

For more information, visit Neurology.com.

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