Sep 09, 2014 1:00 AM

Author: Leah Saycich

Have you ever woken up from your alarm and answered your phone instead of turning off your alarm? If so you may have been experiencing Confusional Arousal or “sleep drunkenness.” A new study in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology looks at what causes it, and the behaviors it causes.

The researchers found, via phone interviews with nearly 20,000 people over the age of 18 in the U.S., 15 percent of those interviewed experienced an episode in the last year, with over half reporting more than one episode per week. In most cases those with the sleep disorder also had irregularities in sleep, a mental health disorder or were taking psychotropic drugs.

Some of these episodes included behaviors like having a conversation while asleep with no recollection of it the next morning or waking up in a hotel room and not knowing where you are or what hour it is.

Krishna Sundar, MD, medical director of University of Utah Health’s Sleep-Wake Center says if you are experiencing episodes like these you should see a doctor. He said that although the episodes are often self-limiting and involve simple confusion, patients can sometimes engage in behavior that may be harmful to themselves or others.

Sundar says, “Sleep deprivation is a big thing. It is really important to ensure adequate sleep time.” Some tips to help obtain adequate sleep time from Dr. Sundar include: looking at your sleep schedule and regularizing them, get to bed earlier, and avoid watching TV before bed. Alcohol and pain medications can also worsen sleep qualities.

If you or your partner are experiencing sleep drunkenness, The University Sleep Center can help thoroughly understand this better. If this is a problem it needs attention and the University Sleep Center has ample resources to do so.

“The bigger importance is understanding the need for good sleep. Getting adequate sleep should not be taken lightly,” Dr. Sundar presses.

Leah Saycich

Leah is an intern with University of Utah Health


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