Sleep drunkenness: Origins and how to treat it

Written by felicityj90

Have you ever woken up feeling grumpy, disoriented, delirious or confused?

Have you ever woken up feeling grumpy, disoriented, delirious or confused? I’m pretty sure that at some point we’ve all felt like this but have put it down to a restless sleep or waking up too early. We just aren’t ‘morning people.’ 

But have you ever woken up suddenly being violent and out of character?

If yes, panic not, you’re not alone and there is a reason behind the short-lived madness. You could be suffering from ‘sleep drunkenness.’ I’m not lying, it really is a disorder and not just the perfect excuse for feeling grouchy on a Monday morning. 

Assessing its origins

Despite the name, it is not linked with alcohol or hangovers, but severe sleep inertia. Symptoms range from erratic behaviour such as hitting to waking up not knowing where you are or what day of the week it is, and can happen little or often.

Most episodes are infrequent, harmless and amusing more than anything. However, if you find yourself aggressively lunging at your boyfriend in a hazy slumber on a regular basis (once a week or more) it’s worth having a think about why. Scientists are now investigating when and why these periods occur, and whether there is any treatment that will prevent any serious consequences.

Causes vary – one theory is that the patient is sleep deprived and another is that the patient gets too much sleep so research continues into the mystery. However, researchers have concluded that the sleep disorder is usually associated with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness, so don't use it as an excuse.

There is help

If you suffer from or are trying to avoid these bouts, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make:

Try to relax in the evenings – don’t work late if possible. 

Try and stick to a regular sleeping pattern – go to bed at the same time each night.

Have a balanced, healthy diet and try to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake particularly in the evening.

Try to exercise every day even for 15 minutes.

Are you suffering from 'Sleep Drunkenness'? Got some tips you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Image: Moyan Brenn – Sleeping / Flickr