Is it really possible to be “sleep drunk” when extremely sleepy or tired? If so, what’s the cause of the feeling and why does it happen


When I used to work a really early shift, I’d be close to knocked out by 8pm. My boyfriend’s told me many times that I, sometimes, say and/do the weirdest things when I’m about to fall asleep. Most of the time I can remember saying or doing these weird things, but it almost feels like they were impulsive reactions that I had no control over.

If anyone could give me some insight as to what being “sleep drunk” really means (if it’s even a thing), and how to prevent/cope with it, I’d really appreciate it!

In: Biology

Biologist here!

It very much is!

We call it “sleep amnesia”, and while the process behind it is pretty biologically technical, the jist is:

There are a handful of chemicals and hormones our body ONLY produces while we sleep, as we stay awake longer and longer, our body exhausts its supply and runs out of the stuff the brain uses to send chemical signals, things like “WATCH OUT!” To make you move from danger or “lift your leg up!” To go up a stair.

And since we only form long term memories during sleep. The longer we go without it, our short term memory starts to get full, think like a thumb drive.

If we dont let it plug in and dump its contents to the desktop (our brain) it starts loosing space and corrupting files in a sense, causing you to lag, thoughts seem disorganized, youre forgetful, simple tasks become harder etc.

After about 2-3 days without sleep or hormonal supplements, the brain starts to shut down. It cant work without its needed nightly repair time, and eventually you’ll enter a state of micro sleep. Where the brain shuts off for 10 seconds at a time trying desperately to get you to go lay down.

Fighting thru that, about 2 weeks in youll be in a full psychosis, unable to process thought. Speak coherently, walk, stand, function.

And about a week later, you die from sleep deprivation

To add:

It sounds like youre not getting restful sleep, either being woken up or kicked out of REM Sleep, either by someone in bed with you or an external force.

Try a night alone in bed, put the phone and tv screens away an hour prior, and dont go into the bedroom until youre ready to go to sleep, laying in bed on a phone disconnects the brain, if it sees the bed as a place to lounge and relax, it has a harder time using it as a place to sleep.

If that doesnt work, try getting an hour of sun a day. Or just outside really, between 4-6 pm if possible.

If THAT still isnt working see your doctor or endocrinologist, you may be suffering from a disorder known as “shift differential syndrome” where a change in work schedule can mess with the brain’s chemistry, and usually requires a regiment of medications to get the brain back set right