The place of confusional arousals in sleep and mental disorders: findings in a general population sample of 13,057 subjects

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2000 Jun;188(6):340-8. doi: 10.1097/00005053-200006000-00004.


Confusional arousals, or sleep drunkenness, occur upon awakening and remain unstudied in the general population. We selected a representative sample from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy (N = 13,057) and conducted telephone interviews. Confusional arousals were reported by 2.9% of the sample: 1% (95% confidence interval: .8 to 1.2%) of the sample also presented with memory deficits (53.9%), disorientation in time and/or space (71%), or slow mentation and speech (54.4%), and 1.9% (1.7% to 2.1%) reported confusional arousals without associated features. Younger subjects (< 35 years) and shift or night workers were at higher risk of reporting confusional arousals. These arousals were strongly associated with the presence of a mental disorder with odds ratios ranging from 2.4 to 13.5. Bipolar and anxiety disorders were the most frequently associated mental disorders. Furthermore, subjects with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS), hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations, violent or injurious behaviors, insomnia, and hypersomnia are more likely to suffer from confusional arousals. Confusional arousals appears to occur quite frequently in the general population, affecting mostly younger subjects regardless of their gender. Physicians should be aware of the frequent associations between confusional arousals, mental disorders, and OSAS. Furthermore, the high occurrence of confusional arousals in shift or night workers may increase the likelihood of inappropriate response by employees sleeping at work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Confusion / diagnosis
  • Confusion / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Wakefulness*


  • Psychotropic Drugs