Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for your physical and mental health, and yet there are a number of conditions which can get in the way of feeling well-rested when you wake each morning.
Sleep drunkenness is one such disorder, and it’s actually a very common problem; one which a lot of sufferers don’t even realize they’re experiencing.
To give you a better idea if you might need to seek treatment for sleep drunkenness, let’s go over a few of the symptoms associated with it.
Ideally when you wake up, you’ll be able to recognize your surroundings and feel comfortable and content with where you are almost immediately.
For those who can’t sleep more than 5 hours and who have sleep drunkenness as a result, feeling confused for a prolonged period upon waking is one of the main symptoms.
This is also described by experts using the term confusional arousal, but it really ties into the idea that this disorder gives patients a similar feeling to that of inebriation. When we’re drunk, we have difficulty processing the world around us clearly, and this level of confusion also applies here.
The amount of time that this feeling lasts for can vary quite a bit. For some people, it will be over in five or so minutes. For others, bouts of confusional arousal can endure for upwards of 40 minutes.
Sudden involuntary movements & physical aggression
Our reflexes can be triggered by sleep drunkenness in a way that’s both inconvenient and potentially dangerous for anyone else that is sharing your bed.
You may respond involuntarily to the process of waking up with movements that are reflexive, and thus impossible to control, such as sudden flailing of the arms, legs or head.
This can result in self-inflicted though entirely accidental injuries, and also be disturbing and unnerving for your partner as well.
At the most extreme end of the spectrum, full-blown acts of physical aggression may be enacted on others, without you ever knowing that it’s happening, and with no subsequent memory of this on your part.
Not being able to speak at a normal pace is another side effect of this disorder, so if you feel that you struggle to spit out sentences in the way you’d usually be able to, speak to a medical professional to see if a diagnosis of sleep drunkenness is on the cards.
All of this comes down to how our brains go about getting ready to move from a state of sleep to a state of wakefulness. There are a few steps involved, and if one is skipped then it can take some time for our minds to get back on an even keel.
This is the overriding impact of this disorder, and one which can have a seriously detrimental impact on how you then go on to handle the day ahead.
Forgetfulness & brain fog
The concept of being confused when you wake up is easy to grasp, but sometimes symptoms can extend to those that are very similar to amnesia.
You might have trouble remembering who you are, or be unable to recall pieces of information that you should know innately, such as where you live, what year it is, or what you do for a living.
While this forgetfulness will wear off, you will also likely experience brain fog throughout the rest of the day. This can make it difficult to concentrate on even menial tasks, and can hamper your productivity at work, as well as making you less able to function optimally in social situations.
Anyone who has a bad night’s sleep can experience symptoms a little like this, but there’s a difference to being over-tired on one day with obvious causes, and suffering a more severe collection of side effects that are indicative of sleep drunkenness.
Exploring the reasons why sleep drunkenness can occur
It’s first worth pointing out that if any of the symptoms of sleep drunkenness described above are something you have experienced, then this could in turn be related to another type of sleep disorder, or a medical issue of which you are already aware, including sleep apnea.
However, people who are otherwise healthy can also trigger this condition with the lifestyle they lead and the choices they make.
For example, if your job requires you to work different shifts, then your sleep patterns will inevitably be disrupted, and this can bring about confusional arousal.
Stress from your professional or personal life is also prone to spilling over into your attempts to rest during the hours of darkness. Whether you are sleeping in fits and starts, or are unable to get the right amount of rest because you are awake going over your problems for hours on end, the disruption of normal patterns of sleep is once again the culprit here.
Overindulging in alcohol, or even having just one or two drinks of an evening, is also known to create sleep-based conundrums, such as confusional arousal. Cutting out this intoxicant from your diet entirely may fix the issue in some cases.
People who suffer with anxiety disorders should also be aware of the greater risk of sleep drunkenness that they face. It is just one of the complexities that you’ll have to contend with as you go about coping with your condition.
Lastly, if you are sleeping for too long, then sleep drunkenness may be the result. A decent proportion of cases come about in patients who rest for nine or more hours each night.
The bottom line
Whatever type of issue is the root cause of a lack of sleep, you need to let your doctor know about the problems you are facing, so that they can provide their expert diagnosis on the matter.
If sleep drunkenness is shown to be present, then more often than not they will be able to advise on small changes you can make to your lifestyle which will have a positive effect going forward. Prescription medications can be offered if the case is severe enough.