Waking Up Confused: Elpenor Syndrome


  • Elpenor syndrome causes you to wake up in a confused state-of-mind
  • It can reduce your extremely important restorative slow-wave sleep
  • Treating Elpenor syndrome is easy and can reduce your risk of confusional arousals.

Have you ever woken up in the night confused about where you are? It might seem a little weird if you’re in your bedroom, which should be a familiar place for you. If you’ve ever had this experience, you might be suffering from Elpenor syndrome, sometimes referred to as confusional arousals.

What exactly is Elpenor syndrome?

Elpenor syndrome is a non-REM-related parasomnia; it occurs during the first three stages of your sleep cycle. It is characterized by partially waking up in a very confused state. You may sit up to look around, typically for a few seconds to a few minutes, before returning back to sleep.

How common is it?

Research has reported that up to 4% of adults experience confusional arousals.

Can it impact my health?

Research using EEG data suggests that the confusional arousals are due to the sleeper waking up during slow-wave delta sleep after bursts of wakeful brain activity (fast theta/alpha/beta waves) occur without a known trigger. Essentially it feels like being stuck between wakefulness and sleep. This can lead to reduced amounts of the extremely important slow-wave delta sleep, which can mess with your:

  • Human growth hormone production

  • Muscle repair

  • Tissue regrowth

  • Immune system

What causes it?

The cause of this parasomnia is not well understood, but researchers have given some suggestions, including:

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Alcohol intake



The best way to ensure that you have a healthy sleep-wake schedule is to keep consistent wake and sleep times. That means trying to make sure you are going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.


You can try to reduce the likelihood of confusional arousals by ensuring that you have a consistent bedtime routine, and an amped-up sleep environment.


  • Skip the nightcap: Most guidelines say that you should wait four hours between your last drink and bedtime. However, research has shown that alcohol consumed even six hours before bedtime can negatively impact your sleep.

  • Stay Hydrated: You can also reduce some of the side effects by keeping hydrated. Experts recommend that you drink one glass of water for every serving of alcohol.

  • Know your limits: Just one drink can disrupt your sleep. One drink is usually equivalent to about a can (12 ounces) of beer, a glass (5 ounces) of wine, or a shot (1.5 ounces) of spirits. The more alcohol you drink, the more your sleep can be disrupted.


  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency can seriously interrupt sleep and over 40% of us are deficient in the sunshine vitamin. Start out with a dose of 600 to 800 IU daily.

  • Multivitamin: A daily multivitamin covers your recommended intake for a variety of vitamins and minerals that can help sleep.

  • Iron: Iron deficiency can be disruptive to sleep and increase anxiety and restless leg syndrome. Have your levels checked and supplement as needed to improve your sleep.

  • Omega-3: Low levels of Omega-3 can cause sleep issues. Supplementation with Omega-3 has been shown to improve sleep quality in adults and children. Choose a supplement with at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA.

  • Magnesium Glycinate: Low magnesium can result in insomnia, restless sleep, frequent waking, and anxiety. Around 50% of people don’t get enough magnesium. Take 500 to 800 mg daily.

Learn more about basic, advanced, and next-level natural supplements that you can take to improve your sleep!

Bottom Line: Elpenor syndrome causes you to wake up in a confused state-of-mind. It can reduce your extremely important restorative slow-wave sleep. Luckily, treating Elpenor syndrome is easy and can reduce your risk of confusional arousals.


Written by:

More Posts