Sleep Drukenness

Could you be suffering from “sleep drunkenness?”

Researchers at Stanford University believe that as many as 1 in 7 adults suffer from a sleep condition known as confusional arousal or more commonly as “sleep drunkenness.”

According to science.blog,com, as many as 36 million Americans experience this potentially problematic sleep condition, in which they are awakened suddenly in a confused state and may be prone to inappropriate behavior, poor decision-making, or even violence.

Stanford psychiatrist and sleep expert Maurice Ohayonwas surprised at the extent of the problem and particularly the length of time that people reported feeling confused and disoriented following a sudden awakening.

He told Science Blog “When you ask people, 60 percent said it lasted more than 5 minutes. And one third said it was 15 minutes or more. A lot of things can happen in that time.”

Dr. Ohayan noted that the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear incident in U.S. history, was made worse by poor decision-making on the part of an engineer who had been awakened suddenly from a nap.

He also cautioned that airline pilots, who may nap during a break, may not be fully efficient for 5 or 10 minutes after being awakened and should take their time before resuming control of an aircraft.

Among those who are most prone to confusional arousal are those with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or those who sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours a night.  The researchers found it is also more common in people with certain psychiatric disorders, such as major depression, anxiety and alcohol dependence.

By the way, more than a third of the people in the study who experienced the problem reported having hallucinations, and 15 percent reported sleep-walking, sometimes accompanied by violent behavior toward the person who woke them up.

Yikes—I better make sure I don’t wake up my wife when she’s taking her Sunday afternoon nap!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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