01/26/2012 03:29 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2012

5 Tips for Battling Confusional Arousals

Confusional arousals are a common sleep disorder. They usually affect children more than adults, although no demographic is immune. We spoke to Subin Jain, M.D., a specialist in neurology and sleep medicine and a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center, Baptist Hospital East, in Louisville, Kentucky, for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep."

If you think you might suffer from confusional arousals, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Tracie Handley

"Confusional arousals involve interrupted sleep where the patient awakens confused," says Dr. Jain. "In children, they can occur because of sleep deprivation. When the child has seizures, they can be part of a movement disorder. Most children, if they do not have other underlying issues associated with the arousals, will grow out of it. In adults, they can be associated with conditions like sleep apnea."

According to Dr. Jain, you know you or your child has it if you or your child awakens somewhat confused and then falls back to sleep.

Get A Professional Assessment

"There is no specific treatment for confusional arousals, as such. The treatment is for the underlying disorder," he says. "Confusional arousals occur for different reasons in children and adults, and in children one should see a professional to rule out disorders such as epilepsy. If those are ruled out, then children should outgrow the arousals without specific therapy. In adults, confusional arousals are most often associated with sleep apnea, and the treatment there is obviously to try to treat the sleep apnea."

Reduce Stress

According to Dr. Jain, "Confusional arousals in children are often related to stress: daytime stress, such as school, or stress in the home. Reducing the stress, or stresses, at least as far as the child is concerned, will help with the confusional arousals."

Get Adequate Sleep

Dr. Jain advises patients to get appropriate hours of sleep, which for a child is much longer than for an adult. "Unfortunately," he says, "we all know that virtually no individual gets adequate sleep, but children especially need to get more sleep. Adequate sleep time is important across the spectrum."

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

"Use your bedroom for sleep only, or in the case of adults, sleep and sex, but no television, no computers," Dr. Jain advises.

Make Bedtime Relaxing

Dr. Jain says this advice is for anyone: "Make bedtime relaxing to reduce stress and encourage sleep. It may be a warm bath, a routine; whatever is calming and reduces stress will be helpful."

Subin Jain, M.D., is a specialist in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, internal medicine and critical-care medicine and is a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as with Louisville Pulmonary Care. A graduate of Maulana Azad Medical College at the University of Delhi, Dr. Jain completed residency and fellowships at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the University of Connecticut and Baylor College of Medicine. He is also board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, critical-care medicine and sleep medicine.

Have you ever suffered from confusional arousals? What worked for you?