Health Beat: Sleep drunkenness

Health Beat: Sleep drunkenness

SAN FRANCISCO - Most of us need a few minutes to get going.

Dr. Maurice M. Ohayon, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center School of Medicine, said if you wake up very confused and out of sorts, you could suffer from "sleep drunkenness."

"Sleep drunkenness is in fact mental confusion that is occurring when the subject is awakened from the deep phase of sleep," Ohayon said.

Ohayon studied more than 19,000 adults and found sleep drunkenness affects about one in seven Americans.

Eighty-four percent of people who had the disorder had other sleep problems, a mental health condition or used antidepressants. In severe cases, patients can injure themselves or others.

"The subject can have a violent answer to the people around him," Ohayon said.

People who are sleep-deprived or those who over-sleep are most likely to suffer from sleep drunkenness. It can happen after a long snooze or a short nap.

Ohayon said it often takes several minutes or more for symptoms to go away.

"They must know that they should give five minutes minimally to the people to recuperate from the nap," Ohayon said.

Also treating other sleep problems can help sleep drunkenness. Make sure you talk to a doctor so you can wake up clear-minded and ready to go.

About one-third of patients with sleep drunkenness have symptoms for more than 15 minutes. Most of the time, they can't remember the incidences afterwards, but sleep drunkenness can be dangerous.

In an extreme case, Ohayon said the condition caused a man on a ship to fall to his death.

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