If you wake up confused and disoriented you may be experiencing confusional arousal or “sleep drunkenness.”

When you are “sleep drunk” you may wake up with slowed speech, appear to be hard to fully wake up, or fail to remember things from the night before.  Scientists believe that you are most likely to experience this parasomnia when you are awakened suddenly from a deep stage of sleep – often from an alarm clock.

Confusional arousal occurs equally in men and women, and may run in families.  It is more common in children than adults, but as many as 1 in 7 adults may experience sleep drunkenness.  Many adults with confusional arousal also suffer from another sleep disorder, like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea.

What can you do if you experience sleep drunkenness?  First, see your doctor to rule out any health conditions that could be the cause.  Make sure you get enough good quality sleep – chronic sleep deprivation can be a trigger. Good sleep hygiene can also help – relax before getting into bed (without electronics) to reduce stress, and make it easier to fall asleep.

If you are sleep deprived, try and recover a short-term sleep deficit – often referred to as “sleep debt” – by going to bed even 15 minutes earlier than usual.  Sleeping in on weekends can help – but a better schedule with even a little more sleep every night is the best remedy.