'Sleep Drunkenness' Is Common and Linked to Other Behavior Issues

But condition remains poorly defined and little understood, researcher says

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In most cases -- 84 percent -- the study participants said in addition to sleep drunkenness, they had other sleep disorders, a mental health disorder or used psychotropic medications such as antidepressants. Less than 1 percent of those with sleep drunkenness didn't have another sleep problem, the researchers found.

Among those suffering from confusional arousal, 37 percent also had a mental health problem. Those with depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, panic or post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety tended to be more likely to also have sleep drunkenness, the study authors noted.

Sleep drunkenness was also associated with sleeping too little or too much. About 20 percent of those who slept less than six hours a night and 15 percent of those who slept at least nine hours suffered from sleep drunkenness, the investigators found. In addition, people with sleep apnea were also more likely to have the problem.

Rye doesn't think the study pinpoints the most common problems associated with sleep drunkenness.

Confusional arousal is poorly defined, he said. "We need to know more about how to define and recognize those with the problem, how it negatively impacts patients' lives, how large is the unmet clinical need, and determine whether a doc should care about the complaint," Rye said.

Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said, "Many patients and doctors are not aware of what confusional arousals are. They can often be misinterpreted for other neurologic and psychiatric conditions."

Krakower noted that it is important to treat the underlying medical problem to avoid confusional arousals.

"In addition, staying on a proper sleep regimen is very important to prevent these premature arousals," he said.

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SOURCES: Maurice Ohayon, M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D., professor, psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif.; David Rye, M.D., Ph.D., professor, neurology, Emory University, Atlanta; Scott Krakower, D.O., assistant unit chief, psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; Aug. 26, 2014, Neurology
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