Sleep Drunkenness Disorder Affects One in Seven People

The Disorder Causes Confusion and Violent Behaviour
By on
A spectator wearing headphones sleeps on Court Two at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London
A spectator wearing headphones sleeps on Court Two at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS) Reuters

A new sleep disorder called "sleep drunkenness" is characterised by perplexity, violent behaviour due to a sudden sleep disturbance either after waking up or in one's sleep. People with the disorder often experience confusion either while falling off to sleep or while they wake up and they may even forget their own inappropriate behaviour once they completely wake up, the research stated.

The medical journal, Neurology® contained the research that was published in its print issue on August 26. It is a journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, with Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California and study author said that most often of these incidents of waking up confused are not given much attention. Sleepwalking is considered a more serious problem, but she said that both these conditions could be "just as serious".

As a part of the research an interview was conducted with the U.S. individual, they were all above 18 years of age. The 19,136 individual were questioned on their sleep habits and were asked if they came across or experienced any symptom of sleep drunkenness in their day to day lives. They were also told to specify if they had any mental illness and were under any medication.

Their responses revealed that nearly half of the people experienced one episode of sleep drunkenness on a weekly basis and 15 per cent were reported that are experiencing the symptoms last year. The concerning factor was that, 84 per cent of the sleep drunkenness cases also had a mental disorder or and nearly 31 per cent of them were on antidepressants. Only one per cent of those with the disorder were free of other mental disorders. It was seen that those with mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, panic or post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety had a higher probability to experience sleep drunkenness.

The disorder could be experienced even while taking a short nap and was not limited only to long hours of sleep. The common notion is that less sleep affects mental abilities, which is true but in this case even those who had nine hours of sleep experienced sleep drunkenness. People with sleep apnea also were more likely to have the disorder.

Ohayon stated that though the disorder was not taken seriously in the past, the growing body of people experiencing these symptoms make it all the more necessary to conduct a research into the treatment of sleep drunkenness. "People with sleep disorders or mental health issues should also be aware that they may be at greater risk of these episodes", Ohayon said.

Join the Discussion