Confusional arousals

Confusional Arousals

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Confusional arousalsOVERVIEW:
Confusional Arousals is a parasomnia sleep disorder that causes the affected person to act in a non-responsive and confused manner. An episode most often occurs when the sufferer wakes up from a deep sleep in the earlier part of the night but can also take place after a nap.

There’s likelihood for you to have this condition if another family member has it. Both men and women alike are susceptible to this disorder with a higher rate recorded among children and young adults. Approximately 18 percent of children suffer from this condition compared to about 4 percent of adults.

Here are other factors that can contribute to Confusional Arousals :

During an episode, a person may appear to awaken and sit up, looking around with a foggy disposition. They won’t know where they are or what they’re doing and may be unresponsive to stimuli.

Episodes can last from a few seconds up to an hour. Sleepwalking, teeth grinding and even shouting may occur. In rare cases, some adults may act out in a hostile or aggressive manner. Generally, the subject has no memory of the events.

Sleepwalking commonly occurs in teenagers who had Confusional Arousals as a child.

Other behavior may include:

  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Muddled thinking
  • Poor memory
  • Brusque answers to questions

Teenagers and young adults
A variation of this disorder that affects teens and adults is called severe morning sleep inertia or “sleep drunkenness.”  The symptoms are the same as Confusional Arousals but they occur in the morning hours upon waking up as opposed to at night.

This condition can take place every morning for years, causing a victim to miss work or perform poorly in school. It can also create conflict with personal relationships at home. Driving in the morning can become a dangerous task due to decreased alertness and in the extreme, injuries may occur.

Children experiencing Confusional Arousals may concern and frighten parents. The child might look baffled and not even acknowledge your presence,  “looking right through” you. Attempts made to give comfort may cause the child to become agitated.

Generally, though, these events are harmless. The disorder is less likely to develop after children reach the age of five.

Advice for Parents
If your child is experiencing a Confusional Arousals episode:

  • Stay calm so that you do not scare your child with a panicked reaction.
  • Don’t attempt to wake your child.
  • Keep an eye on your child to ensure that he or she stays protected.
  • Monitor your child until he or she goes back to sleep.


  • Decrease or discontinue alcohol consumption
  • Get a full night’s sleep
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills

All ages
Consulting an experienced sleep specialist is recommend if the disorder is causing serious problems.

In preparation to see a doctor, keep a sleep diary* for at least a couple of weeks. This will help the doctor to determine the source of your problems.

Also be sure to tell the doctor about your medical history, including use of all past and present drugs and medications and whether you’ve ever had any other sleep disorders.

In some cases a polysomnogram may be necessary. The polysomnogram records all your vital signs and breathing patterns while you sleep. It also charts arm and leg movement. This test determines if other sleep disorders are responsible for your Confusional Arousals, such as, sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder.

In addition to a polysomnogram, recording video of your sleep is optimal. This will help reveal any atypical behavior.

Always consult your doctor before engaging in any form of treatment for Confusional Arousals.

*Sleep diary is courtesy of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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