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Sleep drunkenness occurs in 14 percent of U. S. population

The Land of Cockaigne by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1567.
The Land of Cockaigne by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1567.
Author died more than 100 years ago public domain.

One in seven people in the United States suffer detrimental effects from sleep drunkenness disorder. New research conducted by Dr. Maurice M. Ohayon with Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California has conformed that this little known ailment is a larger problem than ever before. The research was published in the Aug. 26, 2014, edition of the journal Neurology®.

Sleep drunkenness disorder occurs when a person is aroused during sleep or during the time after a person is awakened in the morning. Common symptoms of sleep drunkenness disorder include disorientation, confusion, and inappropriate behavior. Violent behavior that includes no recollection of the violent episode is also common in sleep drunkenness disorder.

Ohayon interviewed 19,136 people that were 18 years of age and older. The group was a representative sample of the United States population. The participants were asked about any experience of sleep drunkenness disorder. The participants also reported any known mental illness and their consumption of drugs that were psychoactive.

Fifteen percent of the participants reported an episode of sleep drunkenness in the last year and 50 percent of that group had a sleep drunkenness episode weekly. The majority of the people that experienced sleep drunkenness (84 percent) had a diagnosed mental illness or took psychoactive medication. Only one percent of the participants with no mental illness reported an episode of sleep drunkenness.

People with depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, panic disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety were the most likely to report a sleep drunkenness episode. People that had short sleep cycles of less than six hours and those that had long sleep cycles of more than nine hours were more likely to experience sleep drunkenness. Sleep apnea also produced a higher number of sleep drunkenness episodes.

Sleep drunkenness disorder is a real disease. Dr. Ohayon suggests a first round of treatment is acquainting the most likely people that will experience sleep drunkenness with the causes of the ailment and the risks involved with certain medications. One might suggest an addition to the warning labels for psychoactive drugs to address this vastly unstudied and very active complication of mental disease and the treatment of common mental disorders.