If you’ve ever had an episode of confusional arousals, you may have experienced something as strange as what I’m about to describe.
After going to bed as normal one day, I later woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in bed. I’m not sure how long I was sitting there without doing anything at first, but I do remember feeling a bit thirsty.
Instead of doing the logical thing and reaching for the glass of water on my bedside table, however, I picked up my phone.
It was only when lifted it to my mouth that I must have realized it didn’t contain any liquid, and put it back on the table.
I then vaguely remember rummaging around for the real glass of water and knocking it off the table onto the stone floor.
I think the sound of the shattering glass must have snapped me out of the confused state. But even then I couldn’t quite understand what I was trying to do.
Over the next few minutes, I slowly came back to reality, and eventually got up to clean the floor. It was only when I was back in bed that it dawned on me that I hadn’t been my usual self.
It seems I’d experienced an episode of what’s known as confusional arousals. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time either, but like many people, I probably don’t usually remember the episodes.
Do you wake up confused and do unusual things?
If you sometimes behave in a confused, strange, or even aggressive way if you wake up in the night, it could be that you’ve also experienced confusional arousals.
And if it tends to happen in the morning, it could potentially be that you have ‘sleep drunkenness’. This is the popular name for what sleep experts call severe sleep inertia. Or in layman’s terms, being unusually slow to come back to life when you wake up in the morning!
In this article, I’ll be taking a look at what confusional arousals are, what’s thought to cause them, and what can be done about them.
I’ll also discuss some fascinating research that shows how common a sleep disorder it is, and who is more likely to have it.
Way back in 2015, I ran a poll to find out how often readers experience confusional arousals.
Note that it’s a poll of people reading this article because it’s relevant to them. So the figure of 2.8% who have never had them is likely to be higher in the general population.
Interestingly though, out of 657 readers, 230 said they have confusional arousals very regularly (1-3 times per week). However, 188 people only have a few per year.
What are confusional arousals?
The International Classification of Sleep Disorders diagnostic manual describes confusional arousals as being when someone wakes up in a confused state.
That might sound obvious, but the confusion can take different forms. For example, you might be confused about who you are, where you are, or what’s happening around you.
If someone talks to you, you might have slow or slurred speech. You might give short, blunt answers to questions, or make no sense at all.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, confusional arousals typically occur as you wake from the slow-wave, or N3, sleep stage.
In the spectrum of sleep disorders, confusional arousals are classified as a parasomnia. Parasomnias include unwanted events or experiences around sleep, such as sleep talking, sleep paralysis, and nightmares.
In an interesting research study published in 2020, the authors describe confusional arousals in a way that I think helps understand what can happen during a typical episode:
CA are episodes during which the subject sits on the bed and looks around as if confused. CA often begin with automatic movements, vocalizations or moaning and can progress to thrashing about in bed or violent behaviors towards oneself or others. Individuals usually appear with slow mentation and have poor reactivity to environmental stimuli; attempts to awaken the person are often unsuccessful and may be met with vigorous resistance.
Who experiences confusional arousals?
It’s believed that an equal number of men and women experience confusional arousals. And it’s more common in children and adults under the age of 35.
In 2014, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine published some fascinating research into confusional arousals.
The research made major news headlines, perhaps in part because they could use the captivating title of ‘sleep drunkenness’.
Importantly, the researchers discovered that it’s surprisingly common and that specific groups of people are more likely to have it.
Key points and findings
Here are the main findings of the Stanford study:
- They interviewed 19,136 adults in the United States.
- 15.2% had experienced confusional arousals in the last year. Over 50% of those had experienced it more than once a week.
Of the 15.2% who had confusional arousals, they found:
- 84% were associated with either a sleep disorder, a mental health disorder, or were taking psychotropic drugs.
- 70.8% had another sleep disorder.
- 14.8% sleepwalk.
- 37.4% had a mental disorder (mostly bipolar and panic disorders).
- 31.3% were using psychotropic medication (mainly antidepressants).
- Just 0.9% had no related condition or identifiable cause and could be said to have a confusional arousal disorder.
- 8.6% have either partial or no memory of episodes.
Different types of confusion
The study found the following were the most common types of behavior or confusion:
- Temporospatial disorientation (confusion about where or when they are): 57%
- Hallucinations: 36%
- Difficulty speaking or thinking clearly: 34%
- Confused behaviors: 20%
- No memory of episodes: 9%
Interestingly, the team concluded that confusional arousals were often reported as arising from the treatment of other sleep disorders. And that both sleep and mental disorders were important factors – as seen from the figures above.
Aggressive behavior provoked by another person
Do you or someone you know sometimes act in an aggressive way during an episode? This is understandably worrying and can be stressful for partners. So why does it happen and what can you do about it?
In 2007, Mark R. Pressman, Ph.D. published an interesting review that looked at violent episodes during confusional arousals.
He wrote that violent episodes aren’t common. But when they do happen, it’s usually in two situations:
- If someone wakes you up.
- When you behave in a complex way in bed in your sleep, and someone else tries to calm you by holding or grabbing you.
He further clarifies that:
Violent behaviors associated with provocations and/or close proximity were found to be present in 100% of confusional arousal patients
So perhaps it’s best to avoid physical contact with someone having an episode unless they are putting themselves or others in danger. And to try to avoid waking someone up who is prone to confusional arousals.
Causes and risk factors
Confusional arousals are thought to happen when transitioning from deep sleep to a lighter sleep stage, or when woken up suddenly.
Researchers in 2018 summarize what happens in a slightly more technical way:
Confusional arousals (CA) are characterized by the association of behavioral awakening with persistent slow-wave electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep—suggesting that sensorimotor areas are “awake” while non-sensorimotor areas are still “asleep.”
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists several possible causes:
- Recovery from sleep deprivation.
- Consuming alcohol.
- Sleep apnea.
- Periodic limb movement disorder.
- Psychotropic medication.
- Drug abuse.
- Being forced to wake up.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also suggests that there are several possible risk factors.
They say you are more likely to experience confusional arousals if you have a relative who has them. In addition, the following factors can increase the chance of them happening:
- Rotating and night shift work.
- Other sleep disorders (hypersomnia, insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorders).
- Not enough sleep
- Bipolar and depressive disorders.
Treatment and prevention
There isn’t a specific cure for confusional arousals as such, and no one-size-fits-all treatment.
If another disorder is causing the episodes, that’s what needs to be treated. This is something to speak to your doctor about, especially if you have signs of a serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea.
The same applies to mental health conditions that can be treated and managed. And if you’re taking medication, it’s a good idea to mention the episodes to your doctor.
If you drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, it might help to see if you have fewer episodes when you don’t drink or take drugs.
It’s also important to try to focus on your sleep and make sure you’re getting enough – don’t allow yourself to become sleep deprived over time.
The standard advice from sleep professionals to practice good sleep hygiene might also help. In particular, find ways to reduce stress, and develop a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine so you go to bed in a calm frame of mind.
You’re not alone
One final note if you’ve been worrying about your behavior is to remember that you’re not alone. Don’t be embarrassed or think you’re abnormal because of what you do when you’re not fully aware.
Many people experience sleep disorders or go through periods where bizarre things happen to them at night.
If it’s worrying you or having an impact on your life or relationships, it’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional though. At the very least, they should be able to set your mind at ease.
The funny side
Personally, I choose to deal with it by trying not to take it too seriously. I try to laugh at myself when I do strange things like attempting to leave my bedroom via the wardrobe (yes, really!).
I know I have other sleep problems and am constantly working on those. So I hope that one day I’ll get on top of my sleep problems once and for all. Perhaps the confusional arousals will then resolve too.
Until then, other than worrying about replacing a broken glass, I’m able to see the funny side. I remind myself that little events like this can make life all the more colorful.
Understandably, if your confusional arousal episodes are causing problems because of aggressive behavior, sleep disruption, or complaints from a partner, you might not see the funny side.
If it’s just the occasional event of mistaking your phone for a lamp, or not knowing who you are for a moment, then perhaps a smile or laugh is the best way to stop yourself get stressed by it.
If you’ve experienced confusional arousals I’d be very interested to hear from you. What exactly happens during your episodes? Have you found anything that makes them more or less frequent?
It’s often the case that readers find reassurance in knowing that they aren’t the only ones who experience a particular sleep disorder. So please feel free to share your story in the comments below.
And now, for the second time this year, I wake up thinking it is Monday instead of Sunday, which later I find out from a family member that it is Sunday, not Monday. I have actually gone to 7-11 and then found out from a clerk at the store that it is Sunday, not Monday. I guess the scary thing about it is that I feel perfectly normal. I do not have any symptoms of confusion, just simply think it is Monday instead of the actual day, which is Sunday.
I have a very repetitive episode of this. I wake up (usually from an evening nap) so the lights are still on and I’ll believe that my boyfriend or a friend is/was there when they aren’t, so I frantically start picking things off the floor and tidying my room because I think they’ve left the room and will be back in a minute and want to make the place look tidy…? Really weird, it lasts like 1-2 minutes and then I get back into bed feeling embarrassed. I think it’s definitely anxiety induced.
The other weird thing I do if I decide to go to the bathroom – I’ll be sitting there on the toilet dosing off several times and I keep tearing off toilet paper and putting it in my left hand to hold then completely forget what I’m doing, tearing off more toilet paper and before I know it ill finds a whole pile of it on the floor cause my left hand keeps dropping it.
Like your funny illustration of leaving the room via the closet! IDK…maybe funny but I literally crash into things, tipping my night table over but worst of all really getting hurt..my arms, face, etc before I wake up. I might be on the toilet, start to dose off and plow into the sink…no fun! This is all during the night. I have a big bed so why do i find myself sitting asleep on the edge of the bed ready to fall off?!
I experienced this on Monday, Jan 2023.
I got up to go to the bathroom and I couldn’t find my way out of my bedroom. I was really confused. So I thought to myself, “you do know that you’re 60 yrs old.” I thought if I can’t find my way out of my bedroom, what’s gonna happen if I have to drive somewhere?
I believe that I experienced confusional arousal (CA) this past week. I woke up one early morning around 5:30 AM in the hallway not knowing where l I was. All the lights were on in the house and various items had been moved about. I felt like I was in someone else’s house for a moment not knowing who or where I was. I remember saying to myself, “What the hell is going on here.” I had evidently also taken a shower as I was still wrapped in a towel. I have no recollection of taking a shower whatsoever. I have security cameras in my house, so I was able to watch myself wandering amuck. It was extremely bizarre and somewhat laughable seeing myself with my eyes wide open, wondering aimlessly about and having no memory of it. I think that stress was the main factor for why I had experienced CA. I have been very busy at work for the past month, and I had just lost someone that I admired very much. It was nice to have found this site so that I have an explanation of what I had gone through.
This happened to me for the very first time and it was extremely confusing. I awoke not thinking I was in bed, but some sort of kitchen worktop or shelves where the ‘glasses’ should go? And got completely disorientation when my partner awoke to tell me I was in bed. Then, as I tried to resettle, I thought I was in a different country as if living out my dreams whilst awake – extremely unaware of what was real or not…
Omg!! That sounds so scary. At least you managed to keep your towel intact.
I had one episode about 8 weeks ago and I was verbally insulting to my now ex-partner, calling her some names which I don’t remember at all.
I pushed past her, she said, and then threw a phone away.
I was not awake and it cost me my home, my partner and my life with my dog also removed from my life.
All this was at 5 am after working 4 long days of shift work.
Tried too hard to fix the relationship and ended up with charges of breach of the peace and vandalism.
Whole life turned upside down in one morning I wasn’t even awake for.
Nice to know I’m not alone.
I’ve had similar experiences like this since having my kids. Happens rarely thank goodness because the “kids” are now in their early 40s!
Usually happens during a daytime nap, but has happened when waking to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night also.
Always the same thing, I awaken and usually know where I am, but I don’t know where one of my kids are.
What follows is a sense of panic as to where they are (when they were really small, I’d leave myself a note saying where they were if I laid down to nap. Then if I awakened to a confused state, I’d read the note and be fine) .
Usually takes anywhere from 1-2 minutes to figure it out, but it’s very disturbing during and after an event.
Once, my confusion happened long enough for me to use a family map app which I opened to see where they each were!
This article and comments are reassuring.
I am 80 years of age and in full control of my faculties. Last night, in the wee hours, I woke suddenly believing I wasn’t in my bed. I was alarmed and turned on the light which showed clearly I was not in bed. I then proceeded to look for myself through my small unit, seeking to discover me in one of the other rooms, the bedroom, toilet, not surprisingly to no avail. I was very concerned at my absence and went so far as to start to wonder had I gone outside. I double checked my bed, in case I was covered by my doona and also began to examine my large wardrobe. At this point, the realisation dawned that it was I indeed who had vacated my bed, and somewhat shaken I returned to my bed. What the”?
Three times in the last 6 months I’ve gotten up at midnight and started my day, not realizing the time until I’m literally about to walk out the door.
I’ve also just had a baby (4 weeks old) and a handful of times I’ve come to myself (woken up) because I’ve been swaddling the bedsheets thinking it’s the baby, and then slowly realized I’m not holding her and subsequently panicking about where she is. Maybe it’s linked to tiredness?
This is a nightly thing and my husband hates it but seems to get a kick out of telling me about my every move in the morning when I am supposed to be sleeping. I have always had dreams and they have always been in color and very involved. Night terrors were horrible for me growing up and I have about two night terrors a year as an adult (39yrs old).
My dreams are so active that we make sure we keep all weapons in the safe for my own sanity. I am currently taking Horizant (gabapentin) and propranolol. I take 1/2 melatonin most nights otherwise I just lay there and won’t sleep.
I woke up two times early this morning and each time I thought my husband had painted himself red….. like the color red…. The second time I was mad at him because he kept telling me to wake up that he was his normal color. I got mad like I usually do and yelled at him that he didn’t understand that he was not a healthy color. It was 9 am and I am normally awake by 730 on the weekends. I am thinking I was extra tired or something. Either way, I think it’s time to talk to my neurologist again about my meds.
I’ve been doing this a lot recently and I found this article while trying to find explanations for why I’m behaving the way I am.
Frequently at night I will wake up when my 18mo son makes the slightest noise and I will wander downstairs with him, in search of some strange item that I am utterly convinced is desperately needed to calm him. When my partner confronts me about what I am doing, I will try and explain but I won’t make sense and will quickly become scared and frustrated at my inability to communicate what I’m trying to do and make him understand. I get very defensive and argumentative, which is out of character, when told I am confused or not thinking logically because at the time and for a long while afterwards, what I’m doing seems crucial and urgent. Last night I was looking desperately for non-existent wax crayons shaped like tree branches? Wtf.
It’s causing friction between myself and my partner as he’s frustrated, concerned and angered by some of my behaviour and worried that I am not capable of caring for our son in that state and I feel helpless as to how I can possibly remedy it.
I used to have confusional arousal a lot when I was younger and suffered from insomnia after our family returned to the states after being overseas. It took me a good two to three weeks of where I would be in a lucid state, but still be dreaming. It was concerning to me because it would happen at night when everyone else was asleep, but I’d wake up still seeing my dreams in real life. It was terrifying to ten year old me. It stopped happening after that time.
Until I began sleeping in the nude. Now, I’ve been sleeping in only my skivvies for nearly a decade. Every once in a while, I will wake up in a startle, realize I am naked and suddenly get very embarrassed like I should have clothing on. It’s just my husband and I, and he certainly doesn’t mind me sleeping in the nude. It just happened to me again last night. We had been visiting my husband’s family last week, in which I wore pajamas because obviously. After we returned home, I wore pjs to bed the next night and woke up very confused thinking I was still at my brother-in-law’s house. After what I’d say was about ten minutes, I became aware of where I was. Then last night it was the one I’ve become rather familiar with, the aware I’m naked confusional arousal. That one always startled me the most though, because for some reason I feel someone is watching me and they are aware I am naked, which makes me aware I am naked, but there’s no one there. I hate it. Any tips on how to get it to stop???
I have always dreamed in color and have very vivid dreams. I’m 43 and can remember dreams I had as a teenager.
I sleep talk almost nightly, I grab my phone and “look” at it says my husband.
The disturbing episodes are shortly after falling asleep I will feel as if I’m between dreaming and reality, I know my eyes are open and I’m looking around room, it’s familiar to me but I feel like I don’t know where I am. I usually sleepwalk, again feeling like I am partially awake, and end up in our master bathroom turning on lights and standing there until I’m fully awake. This happens within the hour of me going to bed.
I notice this happens when something is changing in my routine or I’m about to travel, or I’m worried about something.
Travel seems to be my biggest trigger, but the others you listed affect me also. I didn’t even put it together that I’ve always had vivid dreams in color until you stated that… but yes! I commented also that after traveling abroad and returning to the states, I would wake up and still be seeing my dreams and couldn’t make sense of where I was. It’s very strange to be lucid enough to know what’s happening, but not enough to actually make sense of anything.
I sometimes wake in the night with a feeling of terror or impending doom that if I move I’ll be “lost to the void” or something like that. Like I’ve actually died and instead of going anywhere I’m about to float off into the vacuum of space and dark. It’s very hard to explain. But in that moment I think if I don’t move I can somehow avoid it, if I just wait. At the same time, now that it’s happened more than once, I sort of understand that it’s not real, but as the understanding of a fact not as something that feels true. I am then afraid to go back to sleep but know that I need to in order to reset myself through sleep, like hitting the reset button on my brain.
Also of note, I do have sleep apnea that I am trying to get a CPAP for and I have been told that I sometimes talk and yell in my sleep. The void feeling happened last night again, so I’m glad I found this article so I can try to understand it somewhat.
Just last night I got up and thought that I needed to put on pants for school, specifically my pink ones, and it woke up my roommate. I didn’t remember it In the morning until my roommate asked me “hey did you get up around 3 last night and change and walk around? And I was like “no? I don’t think so, I had a dream about changing though” (which I hadn’t remembered until she brought it up) and then I was like w a i t I’m wearing the pink pants?? Maybe I did get up and change? But the thing is, in my “dream” it was completely bright in the room and I genuinely thought I was going to school. I have no recollection of what I did after I put my pants on, but apparently, I walked around the room for about 10 minutes and layed back down and went back to sleep.
Hi. It happens to me occasionally. I’m 53 and a psychotherapist who is possibly tired from many sessions. Last night I woke up as my younger self. I believed I was in my childhood bedroom. I reached for my lamp but I don’t have a lamp now. I got out of bed and felt my way around what I thought was my single bed. This was to reach light switch by the bedroom door. I moved around our super king bed and past it. I was confused that the wall wasn’t there. I had no choice but to climb onto the bed which I still believed was my single child’s bed. I felt legs beneath the covers and my wife asked me what I was doing. I said who are you? I then slowly realised where I was and saw the alarm clock light. My heart was pounding.
I will wake up with night terrors the most. If the room is pitch black, I will wake up, thinking I am stuck in a box and can’t get out. I will then get out of bed, heart racing, and start trying to get out, whether that is trying to open the door or turn on a light. Usually end up breaking something in the process. I will sometimes also wake up in a panic in the middle of the night and turn on every light in the house until I realize what I am doing. Or I will see someone coming at me in my sleep and wake up screaming. If I am sleeping next to a partner, they have stated I will wake up shaking them thinking that someone is hurting them. A lot of the time I will wake up thrashing and my poor partner is being kicked or slapped. Most recent one wasn’t scary, but I woke up and turned on my light, got dressed, and sat on my bed like I do every morning before work only to find it was 11:45pm at night. One time I even woke up hissing like a cat at someone chasing me. I have no idea what goes on in my head… lol
I’ve only been doing this for a month or so. I will wake up and see something like a bamboo stick or something else I can’t even explain. I go to reach for it and I’ve come to realize there’s nothing there. I waved my hand through it last time knowing from experience that it’s not anything tangible. I’m going to be 68 on 3/4 /2021 and I’ve heard that the veil is thinning and that’s what I believe could be causing this. I wholeheartedly believe we’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle. I’ve had amazing visits from the other side and know they were real. I had a dream probably 40 years ago about an angel laying on a big rock by the creek. He looked at my sister and I and asked if we wanted to go for a ride, I was excited. We got on his back ( he was a chubby cherub kind) and we took off. Shortly afterward my sister slipped off and I couldn’t save her….that was a helpless feeling and that was it. End of the dream but I’ve never forgotten it.
I will wake up and talk nonsense to my husband. At the time, whatever I am talking about is always very important and urgent. My husband will tell me that I am confused (sometimes telling me that I am doing it again) and I will get angry that he doesn’t understand me or how important it is. I then try to explain and realise that I just can’t think properly. Slowly I begin to realise that is has happened again. It happens typically a few times a year. Occasionally I have got out of bed and walked downstairs to find my husband to do this.
Interestingly, I do also suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, which I didn’t realise could be linked. It is more likely to happen when I am stressed.
I also have lucid dreams.
I meant to also say… I always remember it, but the memory is always a bit vague. Tracey Cooke.
I’m not sure this is what I had…
I woke up today, tonight actually. I was SUPPOSED to wake up at 3pm (I work night shift) and I usually get up in the afternoons so I can get a few things done. But today, I woke up at 8:18pm! I had not gotten anything done and I had to start getting ready to leave for work at 9. Needless to say, I was dumbstruck. I am an insomniac. I never sleep more than about 4 hours at a time and that’s good.
I had to jump up and feed my animals- which included running out to the barn and turning on an outside light to check a couple pigs and some barn cats. Thankfully everyone was fine, if not a bit miffed as I had not and did not have time to feed as normal. (I’ll have to make it up to them tomorrow).
As I was getting ready for work, I realized I was having some vertigo and weakness. I guess it could have been from a massive amount of sleep, running around like crazy, stress, etc. But I do get vertigo at times and I have fibromyalgia, so it could be from a number of things.
Anyway, as usual, when off-the-wall things happen, I always research – so, here I am.
My most recent confusional arousal occurred about an hour after falling asleep. I woke up confused about who I was and where I was; however, I knew where my partner was located in the house and I succeeded at both finding him and communicating that “I’m confused”. I felt disconnected from reality, and the initial moments were foggy in my memory (although I remember them happening). After about 5 minutes, as I was coming back to reality I began experiencing strange feelings and thoughts that left me feeling unreal and panicky. Focusing my attention on reading while having a low light on in the bedroom helped to calm my mind and bring me fully back into my body. I do have a history of childhood sleepwalking, adult confusional arousals, and low blood pressure/blood deficiency (according to TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine). I’m presently working to correct the latter.
My mom is acting different lately after waking up at the middle of the night. Tonight just now, she couldn’t even recognize me. I am worried about it, the only thing I found in common is that she is taking one Psychotropic medication (for sleep – prescribed by the doctor). She is 65+ age. please do let me know if you have any suggestions for me. I am really worried and clueless about what to do …
I can understand your concern. Really, this is something to bring up with her doctor. Explain the symptoms, ask if the medication could be playing a role, and also talk through any other concerns you have about her behavior during the daytime, if there are any.
Some thing is going on I think it was Monday morning. I thought my husband was here. Here I am talking to him and wondering why he is not talking back. Then this morning I thought my son was here. The fish tank went off and was trying to see what was wrong. I was asking my son for help but he didn’t and didn’t know where he went. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t know what is wrong.
I am 25 and landed on this page after another confusional arousal. My fiance said when he woke me up, I yanked up the blanket to cover my chest like I didn’t know who he was, and stared blankly for about 3 minutes until my brain sobered up. It’s a scary and bizarre thing to experience, but I think the confusional arousal episode that you described is somewhat common for all ages. I’m not a doctor, and your concerns are absolutely valid, but I hope I can offer some comfort that it’s just a strange side effect of CA, and perhaps it’s been more frequent because of her sleep meds, and not a symptom of a more nefarious health issue. My CA has caused me to open a Gatorade in my sleep when I was thirsty, and fall back asleep with it in my hand without closing it. I woke up when I “sleep drunkenly” doused myself in orange Gatorade. I hope you get a kick out of that story, because it was hilarious trying to comprehend why I do these wacky things in my sleep! I wish you and your mom well.
For pretty much my whole life I have had some of the problems described above.
When someone wakes me up in the morning I can have a full conversation with them and completely forget it ever happened after I go back to sleep. I have awoken in different rooms of my house, once in a sleeping bag that was in storage.
When I was in college I was very sleep-deprived and my reactions became aggressive when I was woken up. When someone wakes me up and I am “sleep drunk” it is like the nice part of my brain is turned off. A friend once asked if he could use my coffee maker after waking me and I told him no because he was clumsy and would break it. Another time I fell asleep watching someone play video games and shouted at them angrily after a few minutes because of the noise. The last time I remember I took a nap before a movie and was angry that no one had woken me up. I went on a tirade yelling around the house, only to return to my bed and slowly come back to myself and start to process how crazy I had just been. I have a really patchy memory of these occurrences and I mostly only remember them after someone mentions them, like reminding me about a bad dream.
I have this exact problem and it is causing issues in my relationship – please tell me if you find anything about this.
I woke up one day and was going to school. It took 10 mins and it is not a little time. I wore my clothes, brushed my teeth, and take my backpack. My mom got up and start saying where I was going- It was 10pm.
I also have very often phone using thing. I wake up using my phone and going to apps… boom where is my phone nowhere.
Usually, I feel scared after that phone thing.
My situation is almost like that it doesn’t happen often but it happened recently. this is the 2nd time it happened where I wake up and sit on the bed for some time. I look at my phone to check the time and it was 5 something and I was supposed to wake up at 7. it’s like I wasn’t thinking at all and I got up and started taking my clothes to head to the bathroom to shower. thankfully my cousin was here and she snapped me out of the trance I was in. And the same situation happened the first time I experienced such thing.
One time I took some Benadryl for allergies, and I swear I had been on the phone talking to a friend for A WHILE and I went to hang up the phone, and there was no phone in my hand. That one scared me the most, because I was having a full on conversation with myself then. I stay away from OTC medication now because I am scared they’ll send me into some weird lucid dream.
So weird and I found it to be pretty funny. I was suddenly awakened by a phone call that I didn’t want anyway. After declining the call, I looked out the window and a glance at the clock. I jumped out of bed, even the light and looks of the day appeared it could have been seven in the morning. I’m very late for work being that normally, I am up at 4a.m. at least that is what I thought. I run to my wife and asked her ” honey why didn’t you wake me up? It’s 7 o’clock. I’m late for work”. She has no idea what I am talking about. She tells me you did wake up and went back to sleep. Now I’m even more confused. That’s when I decided to call my friend and give him the third degree for not calling like any other morning. To see how far in my day I am or just to shoot the breeze on the phone. By then I was coming around something said look at the phone. And at the same time I said “why you didn’t call this morning?. I’m just waking up. He says ” you do realize it’s still Monday, right”? I felt so embarrassed and could do nothing but laugh. I called to give him a hard time for not calling me thinking I was late and overt slept. It was opposite he ran me off the phone.. laughing away at me. It was weird but worth the laugh… Thank you sleep drunkenness, You mad the rest of my evening or day….. now Good night. I have to be up at 4a.m.
Evidently, I have a similar problem. Fell asleep watching tv. Wake up looking out the window and it seems I’m late for work. I call my boss to hear her say it’s the same day 7pm at night Erma. This is the third time in the past several months this has happened! First 2 we laugh it off but this one doesn’t seem so funny! She says it’s becoming a habit! I had to agree so started looking online for answers and ran across your story, Howard. Thanks sleep drunkenness. Least I hope that’s all it is.
I don’t know if this is exactly my issue or not, but maybe about once a month I act really strangely in my sleep. Most of the time it will be me not knowing where I am in the middle of the night. One time I woke up and thought I was in a garbage truck and cried to my bf at the time that we need to get out. I tried feeling around for things and trying so hard to see where I am but then he turns on the lights and I slowly snap out of it. There also have been multiple nights where I don’t know where I am so I frantically get up and feel around and sometimes even sprint to my closet or even down the hall. I soon realize what I just had done and then I lay back down and fall quickly back to sleep. In the morning it’s kinda fuzzy remembering why I did what I did or even if that honestly really happened at all but I’ve delt with this since I was 12 years old and I am currently 23. I’m so glad I found something that I can kind of relate to!
I have had three episodes in the last 12 months. I wake up but do not recognize my bedroom at all. I get out of bed, put my slippers on, get my walking stick and go to find where my family are. As I put my hand on the bedroom door handle I recognize it’s my door and the room becomes familiar. I’ve been worrying I’ve got something seriously wrong with my brain but I’m afraid to go to the doctors.
This is me. I wake in the night and don’t know where I am, I even can’t think who is lying next to me. Once I find the door I come round, but the other night I was trying to get out through the wardrobe. Some weeks it happens most nights. I think it’s when I’m a bit stressed I don’t like things rocking the boat which of course they do cos life happens but it is quite scary at times. It’s nice to know I’m not alone
I also have had the same experience of waking up, not knowing where I am, it happens now and then, for quite a long time (I’m sure it’s been over 5 years since it first started), but I’ve had a different experience of waking up at some point, maybe early in the morning, and grabbing my phone, but then, suddenly, my phone isn’t there, even though I was sure I felt like I was holding it… it’s strange. It doesn’t happen as often of course, rarely to be honest, but it does, for a few years now, happen.
Once my little brother woke me up and handed my his phone asking a question I didn’t understand. I looked at the phone, and then him. I then asked, “Who are you?”. I remember him begin confused, and I then did something for him on his phone, and went back to sleep.
One of the strangest ones I had happened earlier this year when I was sleeping on the sofa downstairs and woke up in the middle of the night seeing a small red light. I was so sure in that moment it was a camera recording me I just got straight up and grabbed any paper I could find to cover the light feeling so violated that someone tried to film me. Then I laid back down feeling relieved and after a minute or two it dawned on me what I just did. The light was just from the radio opposite me that was on standby. I was totally shocked at my strange behaviour. It felt like I had just been possessed because I was totally aware of what I was doing but it was like it wasn’t my mind that decided to do that. I was really concerned that I may have begun to lose my mind.. this wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced something like this. Even last night I had another unsettling episode. But I’m glad to know that this is some kind of condition and that I’m not alone.
My Finance has been acting weird. He changed shifts and is now working from 6pm until 6am. He will call me at work about 8:30am asking where I am at. I tell him I am at work and he says to me you were just here! Where did you go? I have to explain to him that I never saw him in the morning because I had already left for work but, in his mind he really thinks I was there.
I sleep in the buff. I have a reoccurring type of dream that I dream I roll over in bed, and I am sharing the bed with someone other than my husband. It is usually someone I know. Following this dream, I frequently wake up in my bed with pants on. I also sometimes wake up in my closet after digging through laundry, somehow finding a very specific pair of pants in the dark, and putting them on. I will normally remember why I was putting the pants on (that I was sharing a bed with a non-amorous friend), but it will usually take me a few minutes to realize it is my husband in my bed. It happens frequently enough that it is causing me distress. I have a history of occasional night terrors as well. I have had a sleep study done, but it was relatively unhelpful because I didn’t sleep through the night. I have been frightened of what else I can do during my sleep, or that I could have REM sleep disorder which is strongly associated with Parkinsons. Is there a way to differentiate between confusional arousal and REM sleep disorder?
The exact same thing happens to me!! I wake up anxiously and quickly go to my closet to grab a pair of pants while (believing) whoever is with me is in the bathroom and will be back at any moment. It’s relieving to know I’m not the only one.
I have this too, I will wake up and think I’m in bed with someone familiar but not my husband & I can’t work out who. I sometimes know while it’s happening that it’s happened before and so I try to stay in bed and ignore the panic until I can remember but normally I freak out and get dressed or go sleep in my toddler’s bed with her. I try not to worry but I’m 35 and my everyday memory is so bad that I think I’m losing my mind
I have experienced pretty similar things recently. However, just small harmless things such as I’m awake thinking that someone is going to walk into my room while sleeping (someone harmless and someone I know) but it all seems so normal and makes sense. But when I wake up, I remember I had these thoughts, I sometimes get up and get dressed and then go back to bed with clothes on. I have a couple of times woken up with a tidier room because I think someone is coming in again (I had some clothes on the floor so moved them to the side for the person to walk in). Its all pretty strange but I’m not going to lie, I am very confused. Again I have tried finding my phone which I think I have dropped down the side of my bed, turn the light on to find it is on my bedside table. Very harmless but all seems so real at the time until the next morning.
I woke up to go to the bathroom, on returning to my bedroom I reached for my phone to see what time it was, only I couldn’t find my phone so reached to switch the lamp on and couldn’t find the switch. Confused I turned the big light on only to find that my bedside table was facing in the opposite direction !!! Did I do this in my sleep?? No other explanation, and it’s fairly heavy. Is this possible?
Thank you! This happens to me at least once a week for the past few years and I had been wondering what it was. I am frequently sleep-deprived and stressed although I have no sleep or psychological disorders. When I wake up any time before about 7, time and numbers have no meaning and I have no sense of the progression of time. Just last night I woke up at 2am, and, positive that 7am was in a few short minutes, I got completely ready for work. Additionally, I frequently cannot figure out where the sound of my alarm clock is coming from. When this happens I go around my room moving anything I am not used to seeing, like a cup sitting on my table, trying to make the noise stop.
Today when I woke up numbers didn’t have any meaning to me too. I think stress has a toll and after reading your story, I am more convinced that the brain is trying to recover during sleep from the stress we are dealing with.
This happened to me for the first time this morning about 3am – I woke up and was trying to think in numbers – I know that doesn’t sound like it makes any sense but it was so strange. It took me about 10 minutes to ‘let go’ of whatever it was my brain was trying to solve. I definitely think it’s stress related.
I can relate to what you are saying here. My episodes usually involve thinking things that aren’t rational and are difficult to explain to others, and it ends up leading to extreme confusion and sometimes panic. Turning on lights within the bedroom has helped in bringing myself back-to.
I work as a train guard and switch a lot between early and late shifts. I’m glad I can now put a name on what I regularly experience: Confusional Arousals. During the periods when I work late shifts, I tend to wake up after just one or two hour sleep and sit up in bed, thinking I’m at work, I went to quickly put my clothes on as I think my train will call at the next station and I’ll need to go to the platform to close the train doors and give the all clear signal to the driver when it’s time to leave. I really need to focus and really make an effort to tell to myself: I’m not at work. But most of the times I can only convince myself I’m not in charge of the train myself, that I’m on a train, as a passenger, sleeping.
On the other hand, when I work early shifts, and need to get to bed early in the evening, I tend to wake up every hour, bathed in sweat, disorientated in time, thinking I overslept. As my partner hasn’t come to bed because it’s too early, I tend to think at those moments that he’s probably not yet in bed because he maybe fell down the stair or got a heart attack or anything like that, after which I need to go downstairs to verify everything’s alright. Which leaves me kinda broken in when I actually need to get up.
I had an episode of this last night. I woke up thinking that it was Monday and that I was late for work. I live in a house that everyone leaves at about the same time, so I yelled to take everyone up, needless to say, someone got up and told me it was Sunday and snapped me out of it. At that point I felt embarrassed. I’m thankful that I found this article and that there are many others with the same problem.