What Is Sleep Drunkenness

What Is Sleep Drunkenness?

Sleep drunkness (or sleep drunk syndrome) is a condition where one falls asleep while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. There are different types of sleep drunkenness:

A typical case of sleep drunkenness occurs when someone drinks too much alcohol before going to bed, which results in them falling asleep during the night. They may wake up several times throughout the night due to their confusion.

Another type of sleep drunkenness occurs when someone does not drink enough alcohol beforehand, but still takes some after they fall asleep. For example, if they have been drinking at a party and then go to bed without having had any alcoholic beverages, it would result in them sleeping through the night.

In rare cases, people with narcolepsy may experience sleep drunkenness as well.

Symptoms of Sleep Drunkenness

The symptoms of sleep drunkenness vary from person to person depending on their level of intoxication. Common symptoms include:

Confusion and/or hallucinations

Loss of awareness and feeling like you’re watching TV or drifting off into a deep dream state. You might feel like you’re seeing things that aren’t there, hearing voices that don’t exist, or even experiencing time passing very slowly.

Mild to extreme paranoia

Inability to remember the events of the night before due to blacking out

The duration of sleep drunkenness also varies depending on the person. It can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, and in rare cases even longer.

Treating Sleep Drunkenness

The main thing that you want to do when experiencing sleep drunkenness is ensure your safety.

Immediately move away from whatever situation you are in to ensure that you don’t do anything stupid or dangerous. For example, if you are at a party and experience sleep drunkenness, make sure to go into a quiet room by yourself.

Try to get some rest because you will likely be tired the next day no matter what. A hangover will probably also be present, so make sure to drink plenty of water and eat some carbohydrates to make yourself feel better.

It might also help to not consume alcohol for a few days following the incident in order to give your body a break from it.

Preventing Sleep Drunkenness

The only surefire way to prevent sleep drunkenness is not to consume any alcohol or prescription drugs before you go to bed.

If you do consume alcohol or other drugs, there is a risk that you could fall into a state of confusion and wake up disoriented. This can be prevented by making sure to stick to only one or two drinks, always drink with dinner, and not drink on an empty stomach.

It’s also important to pay attention to the warning signs that you might be blacking out. If you feel a loss of awareness, extreme confusion, or anything that seems out of the ordinary then stop drinking immediately.

You can prevent sleep drunkenness from occurring if you cease the consumption of alcohol for the rest of evening and go to bed without any.

Should you experience signs of sleep drunkenness then do not attempt to get behind the wheel of a car or do anything that is remotely dangerous or irresponsible.

You’ll also want to get plenty of rest because you’re going to feel pretty terrible the next day. It might even be a good idea to call in sick to work or class.

Experiencing sleep drunkenness can be a scary thing, especially if you aren’t sure what is going on. The best way to prevent it from happening is to avoid mixing alcohol and other drugs with sleep.

If you have to, then following the steps listed here will help you enjoy a night of restful sleep without the risk of experiencing sleep drunkenness.

Sources & references used in this article:

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Waking up is the hardest thing I do all day: sleep inertia and sleep drunkenness by LM Trotti – Sleep medicine reviews, 2017 – Elsevier

Neurological, psychological and polygraphic findings in sleep drunkenness. by B Roth, S Nevsimalova, V Sagova… – Schweizer Archiv fur …, 1981 – europepmc.org

Impulsive acts and confusional states during incomplete arousal from sleep: criminological and forensic implications by A Bonkalo – Psychiatric Quarterly, 1974 – Springer

Idiopathic hypersomnia with and without long sleep time: a controlled series of 75 patients by C Vernet, I Arnulf – Sleep, 2009 – academic.oup.com

Deficient blood pressure regulation in a case of hypersomnia with sleep drunkenness by D Schneider-Helmert, J Schenker, F Gnirss – … and clinical neurophysiology, 1980 – Elsevier

Sleep violence—forensic science implications: polygraphic and video documentation by MW Mahowald, SR Bundlie, TD Hurwitz… – Journal of Forensic …, 1990 – astm.org

The place of confusional arousals in sleep and mental disorders: findings in a general population sample of 13,057 subjects by MM Ohayon, RG Priest, J ZULLEY… – The Journal of nervous …, 2000 – journals.lww.com

The role of a sleep disorder center in evaluating sleep violence by MW Mahowald, CH Schenck, GM Rosen… – Archives of …, 1992 – jamanetwork.com