Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Confusional Arousals - Diagnosis and Treatment

Self Test

  1. Has someone told you that you act in a way that is strange or confused when they wake you?
  2. Has this behavior been described as being hostile or aggressive?
  3. Have these actions been inappropriate in any way?
  4. Is this a pattern of behavior that occurs on a regular basis?

If your answer to each of these questions is yes, then you might have confusional arousals. Because you may have no memory of the events, it can be hard for you to know on your own.


You will need to see a sleep specialist because this sleep disorder can cause severe problems. The doctor will require you to complete a sleep diary for two weeks. This will give the doctor clues as to what might be causing your problems. You can also rate your sleep with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This will help show how your sleep is affecting your daily life.

The doctor will need to know your complete medical history. Be sure to inform him or her of any past or present drug and medication use.

You may need to do an in-lab sleep study. This type of sleep study charts your brain waves, heart beat and breathing as you sleep. It also records how your arms and legs move. An in-lab study will show if there are other disorders, such as sleep apnea or a movement disorder that are causing your sleep problems. Many sleep studies will also record your sleep on video to show if you do anything unusual while you sleep.


Any other sleep disorders that may be the cause of the unusual behavior need to be treated first. It may help if you cut back on alcohol or stop drinking it completely. It is also important that you always get a full night of sleep.

Some reports indicate that medication has helped. Antidepressants and sleeping pills are among the types of medication that have been used. Talk to your doctor for advice about this and any other form of treatment.