But even the most sober of you have probably been under the influence of sleep drunkenness— those first few moments of confusion we oftentimes go through when we wake up after unknowingly falling asleep. According to a recently-published paper in the journal Neurology, this is actually a relatively common phenomenon.
After conducting telephone interviews, researchers realized that– out of more than 19,000 healthy participants– roughly 15 percent of them admitted to having some kind of sleep-drunk episode within the past year, while another 8 percent said it happens to them weekly!
While the majority of their stories were harmless and/or humorous, all of them were worth hearing about, offered Stanford University School of Medicine psychiatrist Dr. Maurice M. Ohayon, the paper’s primary author. Some frequent examples include that confused feeling you have when you awaken with a jolt before realizing there’s no reason to– it’s the weekend, after all– or when you awaken in a hotel room and initially don’t know where you are.
While normally harmless, it could be an indication of an undiagnosed sleep disorder if it happens to people more than once each week. It could even be a signal that you’re not getting enough sleep– the research found that these occurrences happened more often in individuals who endured many nights in a row with less than six hours of sleep. On the other side of the coin, it could even mean that you’re getting a surplus of sleep: former research concluded that sleep drunkenness is more often seen in people who indicated getting more than nine hours of sleep each night consistently.
Though researchers aren’t positive about what initiates this odd sleep activity, animal studies have uncovered an interesting fact: unexpected awakenings appear to set off a startle reflex, and that makes it so animals– and perhaps us– respond immediately and defensively to all possible threats. For our half-asleep, half-awake minds, a sudden awakening means there’s an emergency– and it’s time to act now.
Always remember to consult your physician or chiropractor before taking any health advice.
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