Monday, September 15, 2014
Parasomnias are a group of disorders that include behaviors that occur around sleep. Confusional arousals are a common parasomnia affecting children; generally mild episodes in which a person wakes up or arouses from sleep and remains in a confused state, they are characterized by the affected person briefly seeming to wake up, sit up, and even look around. The episodes last from seconds to minutes, and they may not be responsive to stimuli.
But according to a new study published in the journal Neurology, as many as 1 in 7 adults may have this disorder. Popularly referred to as "sleep drunkeness", the episodes usually happen when a person wakes suddenly, and people may have no memory of these incidents. In the study, the researchers interviewed a random sample of more than 19,000 American adults about their sleep habits and history of confusional arousal, as well as any mental illness and any medications they were taking.
Approximately 15 percent of those surveyed said they had experienced at least one episode in the previous year, more than half claiming that they suffered at least one episode per week. Slightly fewer than 10 percent of those who had had an episode couldn't remember part or all of the experience, and 15 percent of them also had sleepwalking episodes.
Confusional arousal is different from the normal sleepiness that most people feel when they wake up; most people with sleep inertia, the feeling of grogginess most people experience after awakening, will remember the experience. But people suffering from confusional arousal are not aware of their actions, and attempts to fully wake them usually fail.
The researchers found that among those who'd had a confusional arousal episode, 70 percent also had a sleep disorder and 37 percent had a mental illness. Only 31 percent were taking medication for these disorders, and these were mostly antidepressants. People suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, panic or post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety seemed more susceptible to the disorder, as did those with sleep apnea.
Confusional arousal can result from getting too little or too much sleep; about 20 percent of people who reported getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night reported having an episode, and 15 percent of those who got at least 9 hours per night said the same, the researchers said.
The prevalence of these parasomnias may be cause for concern, and the disorder could have major consequences if it affects people with responsibility for the safety and security of others, such as pilots or emergency-room doctors. CSMA's sleep centers throughout Greater Houston provide treatment to patients suffering from parasomnias and confusional arousals. For more information visit the HoustonSleep.net or call us today at (281) 407-6222.