Sleep Drunkenness Condition Can Have Disastrous Consequences

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — So sleepy, it’s like you’re drunk?

“The body has an appearance of alertness and arousal, but the brain and cognition isn’t functioning at the typical wakeful level,” says Allegheny General Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Glen Getz.

This is actually being recognized as a sleep-related condition, or parasomnia, called confusional arousal — or “sleep drunkenness.”

“I was somewhat surprised by the amount of people they reported having sleep drunkenness, but surprised that it exists,” he says.

In a Stanford study of 19,000 adults, one in 15 Americans experiences this, sometimes with disastrous consequences — like falling off a deck, or punching a sleeping partner.

“Typically, people who have parasomnias are unaware they have parasomnias, because they don’t know that it’s happening,” said Dr. Getz. “Usually, it’s a spouse, or it’s a parent, or somebody else in the household who hears the person awake, hears them walking or talking or getting out of bed.

In many of the cases, the people with sleep drunkenness reported other sleep disorders, mental health disorders, or taking medications for mood disorders.

Also, sleep drunkenness was associated with less than six, or more than nine hours of sleep a night.

“It’s not looking at causation, it’s just identifying risk factors that are linked with parasomnias, or sleep drunkenness specifically,” Dr. Getz said.

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